Why I’m Breaking Up With SEPTA, and Running to the Open Arms of … Amtrak

Scenes from an uncomfortable commute. Photos | Sabrina Vourvoulias

Scenes from an uncomfortably crowded commute. Photos | Sabrina Vourvoulias

For the past 15 years I’ve been a faithful SEPTA customer. I’ve used almost every kind of conveyance the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority provides — buses, subways, high-speed line, regional rail — for both my weekday commute and other travel within and without Philadelphia. I believe it is an incredibly important asset to the southeastern region of the state, and I have always supported increased state funding for it, but I can’t love it. In fact, I often hate SEPTA. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

First, the love. Read more »

SEPTA: Silverliner Vs to Begin Returning to Service in Late August

SEPTA says the first of the sidelined Silverliner V railcars should be back in service the week of Aug. 21.

SEPTA says the first of the sidelined Silverliner V railcars should be back in service the week of Aug. 21.

The first of the sidelined Silverliner V Regional Rail cars should return to service starting the week of August 21st, SEPTA general manager Jeffrey Knueppel announced this afternoon.

Knueppel said that manufacturer Hyundai Rotem and SEPTA would decide on a final design for the replacement equalizer beams for the cars this weekend and award the contracts for their manufacture next week.

The replacement beams will be plate steel like the originals were, but the design of the feet will be different based on the results of analysis SEPTA, Hyundai Rotem, and contractor LTK performed on the defective beams. Hyundai Rotem has already ordered the plate steel for the new beams so that manufacturing can begin quickly. Read more »

SEPTA Shows Off Quiet New Electric Bus to Public

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Photo: Sandy Smith

While it was busy getting the crowds to and from the Democratic National Convention, SEPTA took time out on Thursday (July 28th) to show the locals and visitors a glimpse of the future.

That glimpse took the form of a Proterra Catalyst battery-powered electric bus parked in front of SEPTA’s Center City headquarters in the middle of the day.

SEPTA ordered 25 of these buses in late April after winning a Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grant from the Federal Transit Administration. SEPTA used the grant, which totals $2,585,075, to cover the difference in cost between the more expensive battery-electric buses and the diesel-electric hybrids it normally buys. Read more »

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 »

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