Eastern Half of The Gallery to Shutter in October

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Officials from SEPTA and PATCO confirmed today that PREIT plans to shut down the eastern half of the Gallery mall on October 2nd, as the developer commences with the first phase of its $325 million vision that will eventually see it become the glossy Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia.

Jeff Gammage of The Inquirer reports that PREIT notified both SEPTA and PATCO officials of the announcement today via hand-delivered letter, which outlined the PREIT’s plan: “The first stage of demolition at the three-block mall will take place between Eighth and 10th Streets. A barricade will block access to the east, and to the stairs and escalator at 10th, which now usher people up to ground level at Market Street.”

The second phase includes work on the western portion of the mall to 11th Street, and is anticipated to begin in 2016.

So, will it be a long, cold winter for the thousands of commuters who prefer to make their way to and from Center City through the warm concourse of The Gallery?

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SEPTA Increasing Train Service for Made in America

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Center City will be a mess this weekend, with thousands of revelers heading to the Parkway for the 2015 Made in America Festival, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, SEPTA has announced it will increase train and rail service throughout the weekend. They’ve also released information about any interrupted routes so you don’t get on a detoured bus.

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SEPTA Offers Optimism, Map for Pope’s Visit

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“Nothing gets you closer to the pope than SEPTA.”

Those were the exact words of SEPTA general manager Joseph M. Casey during a Thursday briefing, and he backed it up with some stats. He said all of SEPTA’s dropoff locations were within a 2-mile walk of what’s now being called the “Francis Festival Grounds.” Pope Francis arrives here for the end of the World Meeting of Families on September 26th and 27th.

“None of these distances are marathon walks,” Casey said. “When you exit 30th Street [Station], you can actually see the Art Museum… we hope you use SEPTA to see the pope.” The longest

Casey also said there are still more than 100,000 Regional Rail passes available available for $10. They are currently on sale at departure stations. Casey said that “there’s plenty of capacity out there.” Norristown High-Speed Line passes are available at 69th Street Terminal. Read more »

Passenger Says SEPTA Driver Mocked His Disability

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SEPTA bus | Jeff Fusco

A Philadelphia man says a SEPTA bus driver mocked his disability during a 2013 ride.

“Get up and give me some money,” the driver allegedly told the disabled man. “You can walk.”

Steven Gary sued in federal court last week, claiming the encounter with the Route 26 driver — identified as “John Doe” — occurred when Gary attempted to board the bus on a motorized scooter. Gary says he has “disease and/or injury” to his right leg that has left him with a disability.

According to the lawsuit, here’s what happened next: Read more »

SEPTA Is Trying to Become More Bike Friendly

SEPTA Regional Rail is booming. Last year the service set a ridership record: 37.4 million trips were made last year. To meet demand, SEPTA is buying new locomotives and looking for bi-level railcars.

But there’s a bottleneck in the system: parking. The largely diminutive lots surrounding SEPTA’s regional rail stops in the suburbs are usually jammed.

One potential answer? Bikes. SEPTA’s 2016 budget includes $3 million for new bike infrastructure at 15 regional rail stations over the next three years, Next City reports. It’s one key element of the agency’s new Cycle-Transit plan, which aims to make SEPTA more convenient for the growing number of bicycle riders. As the plan puts it: Read more »

SEPTA Got Better with Joe Casey at the Bat

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Running a large transit system may just be one of the most thankless tasks anyone could take on. You have the responsibility for moving hundreds of thousands of people daily, usually with less money than you’d like to have for the job. Many of those people you move will not like the way your employees get them there, or fail to do so in a timely manner—and give them bad attitude while they ride. And chances are that the elected officials to whom you must answer will be among your most demanding critics while doing little to enable you to answer the criticism.

It’s a rare individual who manages to surmount even some of this to enact real change and improvement. The last person to do this at SEPTA was David Gunn, a name that’s become virtually holy among transit industry professionals for his ability to make every transit system he touched better, with the possible exception of his last, Amtrak.

SEPTA’s current general manager, Joe Casey, is Gunn’s equal—or his superior— in just about every measure. As he now takes his valedictory lap prior to his retirement Sept. 30, it might be worth pointing out why. Read more »

Philly Among Metros With the Biggest Drop in Car Commuters

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The Philadelphia region is one of 15 large metropolitan areas in the country that saw the steepest declines in automobile commuters in recent years. About 80.5 percent of Philly workers traveled by car to their jobs in 2013, compared to 83.1 percent in 2006, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

Philly is right up there with San Fransisco, Boston, Seattle and New York City in this list.

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SEPTA Papal Pass Lottery for Suburban Trolleys, Norristown High Speed Line Open Now

Norristown High-Speed Line train

Photo by Peetlesnumber1 via Wikimedia Commons; used under a Creative Commons License

SEPTA today opened the lottery for three-day papal passes on its suburban transit routes — the Norristown High Speed Line and Trolley routes 101 and 102. There will be 5,600 tickets will be sold for each of the two trolley routes, and 20,000 will be available for the Norristown line.

Those looking to enter the lottery have until 11:59 p.m. tonight to do so at SEPTA’s lottery web site. Read more »

Mazzoni Center: Court Ruling on SEPTA Doesn’t Add Up

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We’ve been carefully following Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision late last Friday that claimed that SEPTA did not have to follow Philadelphia city ordinances which prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. Yesterday afternoon, SEPTA issued their official statement on the matter, which claimed that:

“The case concerned one governmental entity’s authority over another based upon the statutory scheme overlaying both of those governmental entities. The central question of the case was whether that statutory scheme authorized the City to apply the FPO to SEPTA. SEPTA’s motion had nothing to do with protections afforded or not to the LGBTQ community.”

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Report: SEPTA on Track With Safety Improvements

Septa regional rail train

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

By year’s end, SEPTA may well be running one of the safest passenger rail systems in the United States.

That’s because the transit agency is among the few on track to meet a federal mandate to install “positive train control” technology throughout its Regional Rail system by the federal deadline of Jan. 1. A new report from the Federal Railroad Administration shows SEPTA is just one of 11 railroads — out of 41 nationwide — expected to meet the deadline.

“It may be a photo finish,” SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams told PlanPhilly, which first reported on the FRA report.

Almost half of SEPTA’s 290 locomotives are equipped with the new safety technology. The agency has been taking cars out of service — making trains more crowded — in order to meet the deadline.
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