Here’s Why the Subways Ran All Night Last Night

The threat of snow gave many workers in Philadelphia Tuesday off. It also had another benefit: It caused SEPTA to run the Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Line all night.

“When the weather is really bad or bus and trains are suspended,” explains SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams, “the subway and elevated lines… can continue to operate and serve riders during the worst conditions.”

Though SEPTA now operates trains 24 hours on weekend nights, the winter weather service is unrelated to that rollout. Williams says SEPTA has run overnight trains during certain snow storms in all her six years with the transit agency.  Overnight, trains ran every 20 minutes.

SEPTA made several service alterations yesterday due to the snow forecast. Currently, all El trains are making all stops. It dispatched additional track inspectors, maintenance crews, signal maintainers and power crews to deal with any problems caused by the snow. Regional rail trains today are operating on a Saturday schedule. The Cynwyd Line is not operating. Additional Regional Rail info is on SEPTA’s website.

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SEPTA Considers Platform Screen Doors for El, Broad Street Line

The Jubilee Line platform of the Westminster tube station in London.

The Jubilee Line platform of the Westminster tube station in London.

If David Oh has his way, SEPTA stations will look quite a bit different one day.

The Philadelphia City Councilman is part of a push to have platform screen doors installed on SEPTA trains. Platform screen doors, uncommon in the United States but in wide use in Europe and Asia, would be placed on stops on the El and Broad Street Line. Despite their name, platform screen doors are usually made out of glass.

In an attempt to encourage Asian companies to invest in Philadelphia, Oh went on a weeklong trade mission to Korea in September. He introduced the Korean company that wants to install platform screen doors on Philadelphia subway stops, TIS Inc., to SEPTA last year after that trade mission.

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Cops Deliver Christmas Baby on SEPTA Train

Two SEPTA police officers helped deliver a baby Christmas night, on the eastbound Market Frankford subway as it approached its 15th Street stop.

NBC 10 reports the delivery occurred around 6 p.m.:

“When she was on the train I guess the baby said, ‘I’m ready to come out now,” said witness Toney Harris-Saunders who was on his way to see family for Christmas.

Harris-Saunders, a 26-year-old Philadelphia resident, said he called 911 when he saw the woman having the baby in the seat in front of him — calling the entire experience a “phenomena.”

“I helped relax her and a couple of other people helped her as well … told her to relax, to take some breaths,” said Harris-Saunders.

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SEPTA Sues Drug Maker Over $1,000-a-Pill Hep C Drug

SEPTA has sued the drugmaker Gilead over the price of its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs about $1,000 a pill — or $84,000 for a standard treatment.

The lawsuit says the 12-week treatment costs only $900 in Egypt. Gilead also recently cut a deal to sell generic Sovaldi, sofosbuvir, in 91 developing countries. The lawsuit says the Federal Bureau of Prisons also receives massive discounts on the Hep C drug. Gilead has made $5.7 billion selling Sovaldi this year already, about half its revenue.

SEPTA is seeking a judgment that Gilead has engaged in price discrimination, as well as monetary restitution. The transit agency is suing because it is a “third party payor” of its employees’ health care costs; SEPTA has paid $2.4 million for Sovaldi since the drug came out.
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MAP: This Is What Philly Would Look Like With Full 24-Hour SEPTA Service

Owl Service Map

We gave SEPTA some suggestions for all-night bus routes. They showed us what that might look like.

If you read my first commentary on all-night SEPTA subway service — in which I asked if SEPTA might better spend its money providing 24-hour bus service to all corners of the city — you may be surprised to hear that I was quite pleased when the agency decided to make its experiment with all-night rapid transit on weekends permanent.

And it’s not just because it means I can now take a train rather than a bus home on those occasional weekend nights that I stay out way late. Rather, it’s because it shows the agency responded to its riders. A bunch of them recommended this change, SEPTA tried it, and the riders responded enthusiastically.

And the agency is providing this service, which is carrying anywhere from 66 to 100 percent more riders than took the Nite Owl buses, for a mere $34,000 more per weekend than it spent on the buses.

That’s $1.768 million for a year’s worth of overnight subway-elevated service on the weekends.

But.

There’s still this nagging feeling in the back of my head that this $1.8 million or so would still be better spent providing overnight service to parts of the city that don’t have any — or are too far from the nearest — 24-hour bus line.

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SEPTA Loses Round in Anti-Islam Bus Ad Battle

anti-muslim-bus-ad-suit-septa

SEPTA has lost an early round in its battle to keep an anti-Islam advertisement off of its buses. A federal judge last week ruled the agency cannot present testimony that the ad is false — saying the First Amendment protects political speech even when it’s incorrect.

“Long standing Supreme Court precedent instructs that political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because the listener believes that it is false or disagrees with the message it advances,” Judge Mitchell Goldberg wrote in his ruling. (See the full ruling below.)
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After Delays, Broad Street Line Resumes Service

Photo | Ben Schumin.

Photo | Ben Schumin.

SEPTA’s not having an easy day. Northbound trains on the Broad Street Line were halted temporarily this morning due to an equipment problem at Snyder Station, disrupting rush-hour commuters trying to get to work. Southbound trains were being stopped at Lombard Street station, with shuttle service provided for stops south of there.

Just after 9:30 a.m., SEPTA announced that service had resumed, but warned riders to expect residual delays.

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