Morning Headlines: SEPTA Talks Makeover at 15th Street Station

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SEPTA news has been coming in fast and furious these past few weeks. You may remember that our super-cool sister blog Citified brought you the news that they’re looking at bringing sexy new trolleys with easier access into the fold. SEPTA’s director of strategic planning and analysis, Byron Comati, called it a “once in a generation type move.” Now, Sandy Smith reports that SEPTA has unveiled the designs of the overhaul at 15th Street Station.

Unfortunately, the work won’t take place until after the “Democrats decamp” next summer, but, rest assured, this is a major project for the city. The work will be done in phases and, due to the complexity of the efforts at City Hall Station, crews will redo 15th Street Station first:

The engineering to be done there is simpler, consisting mainly of inserting five elevator shafts: two from the west side of the 15th and Market streets intersection to the station mezzanine and one from the mezzanine to each of the Market-Frankford Line platforms and the eastbound trolley platform at 15th Street.

For more info about the “daunting” task crews have at City Hall Station, check out Smith’s piece in our News section.

• SEPTA Unveils Renderings of 15th Street Station Renovations [Philly Mag News]

More amazing headlines this way…

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SEPTA Unveils Renderings of 15th Street Station Renovations



There’s good news, bad news and “bad news with a but” about the long-planned, long-delayed reconstruction of City Hall Station on the Broad Street Line and 15th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line.

The first, but perhaps unavoidable, bit of bad news: The hordes that will descend upon Philadelphia for the World Conference of Families starring Pope Francis this fall and the Democratic National Convention next summer will experience the same dingy, cramped platforms and passages we have had to endure for more than 85 years. Read more »

Sleek, Modern Trolleys Coming to Philly

"United Streetcar 10T3 prototype for Portland" by Steve Morgan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:United_Streetcar_10T3_prototype_for_Portland.jpg#/media/File:United_Streetcar_10T3_prototype_for_Portland.jpg

Modern, articulating trolleys, like this one in Portland, Oregon, are coming to Philadelphia. | Photo by Steve Morgan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Philadelphia has the largest trolley system in the nationa title it’s held since the 1970s. But the old-school tanks climbing up and down city streets look like relics from our parents’ (or grandparents’) generation. Trolleys along Baltimore Avenue in the Southwest are early-80s Kawasaki models; on Girard Avenue, the trolleys are actually reconditioned from the ‘40s.

In a few years, though, that’s going to change in a big way.

In an interview with Citified, SEPTA’s director of strategic planning and analysis, Byron Comati, said that a massive trolley fleet renovation is on the horizon. “Once the Key system is done, the next biggie that has complications will be trolley modernization,” Comati said. “It’s a transformational project. You do this once in a generation.” Read more »

The Country’s Lead Foot Rebounded in 2014

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

For the first time since 2008, Americans logged more than 3 trillion miles of driving last year. That’s according to new data released by the Federal Highway Administration, which shows driving mileage increased 1.7 percent nationwide in 2014 — faster growth than we’ve seen in a decade. Our collective lead foot hastened even as more Americans also rode public transportation last year.

But in Philly, there’s reason to think that our driving habits remain an exception to this broader surge.

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Judge: SEPTA Must Run Ads Comparing Muslims to Hitler

Anti-Islam ad SEPTA refused to run

The advertisement SEPTA originally refused to run

A federal judge has ruled that SEPTA must run anti-Islam ads that compare Muslims to Hitler.

Last year, we told you about the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The group, characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, sued SEPTA after the transit authority rejected its ads that advocate for the end of United States aid to “Islamic countries.” Yesterday, a judge ruled in favor of the AFDI, which also goes by the name Stop Islamization of America. It was co-founded by Pamela Gellar, best known for writing the Atlas Shrugs blog. Read more »

SEPTA Ridership Was Down in 2014—Are Millennials to Blame?

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Shutterstock.com

After record-breaking ridership on SEPTA in 2013, fewer Philadelphians took public transit last year, according to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The system maintained its status as the 6th-most travelled metro system, but transit trips were down about 7 million in total, or, about 2 percent on the year. Nationwide, passengers on public transportation increased by 1 percent in 2014 (barely outpacing U.S. population growth), contributing to 10.8 billion rides, the highest total mark in 58 years. Read more »

SEPTA Key: Will Students Ride For “Free”?

Septa regional rail train

SEPTA Key—the transit agency’s next-gen fare payment system—is still in its pilot stage, two years after the transition away from tokens and cash was supposed to begin. Now, all SEPTA is saying is that it’s rollout is “expected” in 2015. Let’s hope we have electronic fares before the Pope.

But the long delays haven’t deterred speculation about the program. Over at Sic Transit Philadelphia, there’s a thought-provoking post about the looming changeover from tokens to plastic cards (or in self-explanatory jargon, the “New Payment Technology”). And the story brings good news. Michael Noda reports that SEPTA officials are open to granting more reduced fares within the new system, including to groups like university students, who might be able to ride on the cheap using their student IDs. Read more »

Live Wires Fall on SEPTA Train, Halt Traffic

[UPDATE] SEPTA reports that shuttle buses are currently operating between Glenside and Warminster in both directions until further notice.

[UPDATE] It appears the passengers, at least, have continued their travels:

[ORIGINAL]

Service on SEPTA’s Warminster Regional Rail line has been suspended in both directions, from Warminster to Glenside Station, after live electrical wires fell on a train, trapping 500 passengers.
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SEPTA’s Got Big Plans for Underground Concourse

South Broad Concourse, Under Construction

South Broad concourse, under construction. Photo | Dan McQuade

 

Three and a half miles of concourses run under the streets of Center City Philadelphia. One can walk from 8th and Market all the way to the Comcast Center. One can then go from there to 12th and Locust. Walking underground can actually save time in many instances: There are no distractions, as swaths of the concourse are devoid of anyone but people rushing through, maintenance workers, loiterers and the occasional skateboarder and/or pot smoker.

SEPTA wants to change that eventually. Now that it has control of maintenance and capital improvement of the underground concourses, SEPTA has begun improvements and repairs. The two escalators at 15th Street — across from City Hall — will be replaced. SEPTA is also replacing the escalator at the 8th Street Station and renovating the elevator there. Read more »

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