Why Did SEPTA Kick Protesters Off the Subway During the DNC?

Demonstrators protest outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, during the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

Demonstrators protest outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, during the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

A curious thing happened Tuesday afternoon.

I was on my way to the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center, traveling southbound on the Broad Street Line, when a cop boarded the subway at the Oregon station. He promptly told passengers that if they didn’t have credentials for the DNC, they had to get off — otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed out at AT&T Station. Several protesters, mostly Bernie Sanders supporters, politely exited.

I thought it was weird. For one thing, it made it harder for activists to get to FDR Park, the city’s designated location for demonstrations outside the DNC. It was also an inconvenience for any Philadelphian who needed to exit at AT&T Station to get home or to work. So I asked officials why they decided to boot un-credentialed riders from the subway.  Read more »

SEPTA Suspends Pay-on-Board Option for Some Trains at Center City Stops

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SEPTA Regional Rail commuters might want to leave five minutes earlier to catch the train next week.

Starting Monday, passengers boarding Regional Rail trains at Center City stops must purchase tickets or passes ahead of time if they plan to depart between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Affected stops include 30th Street Station, Suburban Station, Jefferson Station, Temple Station and University City stations, where SEPTA employees will check to make sure all passengers carry either passes or tickets before allowing them to board. Read more »

Conventioneers, It’s Clear: Take the Subway

SEPTA shuttle buses, fresh from dropping off passengers, round the intersection of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue as supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders stage a protest outside the convention security perimeter. | Photos: Sandy Smith

SEPTA shuttle buses, fresh from dropping off passengers, round the intersection of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue as supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders stage a protest outside the convention security perimeter. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Back in 1983, when I moved here, SEPTA’s official Philadelphia Street and Transit Map (still the best paper map of the city around, if you can find a copy) had this blunt statement on the back:

“If you wish to move around the city quickly, you must stay out of traffic.”

Note to Democratic National Convention-goers: That means you should take the Broad Street Line to get to the Wells Fargo Center.

A completely unscientific survey of delegates and other attendees during last night’s opening session revealed a significant satisfaction gap between those who relied on SEPTA’s shuttle buses and those who used the subway to get to and from the convention site. Read more »

SEPTA: Expect Crowds on the Broad Street Line All Week

Expect crowded conditions on the Broad Street Line around this time every day during the convention. | Photo: Ben Schumin

Expect crowded conditions on the Broad Street Line around this time every day during the convention. | Photo: Ben Schumin

SEPTA is also part of the city’s mobilization effort to get the delegates and hangers-on for the 2016 Democratic National Convention where they’re going.

The agency has 125 buses stored at a parking lot within the convention’s security perimeter, ready to shuttle delegates from their Center City and airport hotels to the Wells Fargo Center.

But not everyone is eligible to ride the buses, which have been swept to clear Secret Service security requirements. For everyone else, there’s the Broad Street Line. Read more »

Hyundai Rotem Blames SEPTA Regional Rail Troubles on Improper Welding

Some of the 120 Silverliner V railway cars taken out of service by SEPTA shown in the Powelton storage yard in West Philadelphia.

Some of the 120 Silverliner V railway cars taken out of service by SEPTA shown in the Powelton storage yard in West Philadelphia.

The SEPTA Regional Rail car troubles that have led a third of the fleet to be removed from service are due to improper welding, Hyundai Rotem officials told the Inquirer on Tuesday.

Welding connecting the cars’ equalizer beams to plates that attach the cars’ wheel bearings have prompted fatigue cracks in the equalizer beams, company officials told the newspaper. When working efficiently, the equalizer beams distribute the weight of the Silverliner V Regional Rail cars to the axles.

Hyundai Rotem, the South Korean company responsible for designing and building the Silverliner V cars, is analyzing the weld. The issue forced SEPTA to remove 120 of the cars, which prompted the fallout of heavily adjusted and reduced train schedules for weeks and possibly months to come.

Read more »

SEPTA Adds 10 More Cars to Roster, Reshuffles Service Starting Monday

SEPTA Interim Weekday Schedule

Photo: Jeff Fusco

SEPTA announced this afternoon (July 15th) that it has secured 10 more rail cars from Maryland, and as a result, the interim weekday schedule in effect for the duration of the Silverliner V car shortage will be adjusted again effective Monday, July 18th.

Five cars from the Maryland Area Rail Commuter Service (MARC) will be on the property in time for Monday’s schedule, and five more are expected by the middle of the week. When the second set of five cars arrives, it will bring to 28 the total number of leased cars supplementing the still-in-service Silverliner IV electric-multiple-unit railcars.

The additional cars along with adjustments to the way the cars currently in service are deployed should alleviate crowding on the busiest Regional Rail lines. Read more »

SEPTA Shows Us Just How Hard-to-Detect Those Silverliner V Stress Fractures Are

SEPTA Assistant GM for Operations Ron Hopkins describes how the equalizer bar (gray bar at left center in photo) is mounted onto the truck of a Silverliner V. | Photos: Sandy Smith

SEPTA Assistant GM for Operations Ron Hopkins describes how the equalizer bar (gray bar at left center in photo) is mounted onto the truck of a Silverliner V. | Photos: Sandy Smith

This morning (July 14th) at its Overbrook Maintenance Facility, SEPTA Assistant General Manager for Operations Ron Hopkins took the assembled media on an inspection tour to share what its maintenance staff and contractors have been doing to identify where and how the stress fractures that have sidelined its fleet of Silverliner V railcars occurred.

SEPTA and its contractor LTK have been conducting more intensive inspections of all of the trucks for the Silverliner Vs in the two weeks since a fractured equalizer bar and the discovery of tiny cracks in other bars forced the agency to pull all 120 cars out of service. Read more »

Comcast Opens Wi-Fi Hotspots to Ease Commuter Woes

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Comcast announced on Tuesday that it is opening up free access to more than 150 XFinity WiFi hotspots at SEPTA Regional Rail and High Speed Line stations throughout the region.

The move is an effort to help SEPTA riders stay connected and productive while the trains run on a modified schedule, the company says. At the beginning of the month, SEPTA removed a third of its train cars after discovering a defect in its Silverliner V cars.

Read more »

Explainer: What SEPTA’s Inspectors Should Be Asking About Those Silverliner V Wheel Assemblies

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. |Photo: SEPTA

According to both SEPTA and a veteran structural engineer, the original stress tests on the Silverliner V equalizer bars, shown here, may not have captured all the loads that could cause the part to fail at the welds. Photo | SEPTA

SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem have three possible options for returning the Silverliner V railcars to revenue service:

  • Repair the damaged equalizer bars.
  • Replace the damaged bars and attach the new ones to the existing trucks.
  • Build all-new trucks with a different equalizer bar design.

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, the first option looks like it will be ruled out. But before it can be ruled out completely, and before SEPTA and Hyundai Rotem can figure out which of the other two options to pursue, they have to determine what caused the damaged equalizer bars crack and how they developed. Read more »

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