SEPTA and the Villanova Parade: What You Need to Know

Villanova players celebrates after Kris Jenkins, center, scores a game winning three point basket in the closing seconds of NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game.

Villanova players celebrates after Kris Jenkins, center, scores a game winning three point basket in the closing seconds of NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game.

The Villanova University Wildcats are the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions, winning in dramatic fashion on Monday night on a buzzer-beating three pointer from Kris Jenkins to defeat the University of North Carolina, 77-74.

They returned to the Main Line yesterday afternoon and were greeted to a welcome home rally at Villanova Stadium. That isn’t the only celebration however, as they are also having a parade down Market Street this Friday at 1 p.m. The parade will begin at 20th and will go down Market Street to Dilworth Park.

With the expected crowds this Friday, SEPTA just announced its service plans for the afternoon. Read more »

The Top 5 Items on This Year’s SEPTA Wish List

New locomotives are just one of the items SEPTA will spend capital budget money on in fiscal 2017.

New locomotives are just one of the items SEPTA will spend capital budget money on in fiscal 2017.

Each fiscal year, SEPTA releases two budgets: operating and capital. The operating budget, released last week, is the bread-and-butter budget that projects what SEPTA will spend on keeping us moving around the region.

The capital budget, released over the weekend, is SEPTA’s wish list: It outlines not only what it will spend on building and fixing stuff in the year ahead but also what it wants to build and fix in the next dozen years.

SEPTA’s cup now runneth over with capital projects for the next 12 years thanks in large part to the steady stream of state funding guaranteed by the passage of Act 89 in Gov. Tom Corbett‘s last year in office. The total price tag for everything SEPTA wants to build or fix during that time frame is $7.3 billion, up from $6.8 billion in the previous fiscal year. What the agency plans to spend on its infrastructure in the coming year also rose, from $534.54 million to $548.63 million, a 2.6% increase and more than the agency projected it would spend in fiscal 2017 at the start of this year.

So what will that $548.63 million buy this year? The short answer is: A ton of bridge, track, station, overhead wire, communications infrastructure and maintenance and storage facility repairs as well as the start of an upgrade to SEPTA’s headquarters and a little more headway on SEPTA Key. What follows are some of the biggest-ticket items on this year’s to-do list: Read more »

Every Judgmental Facebook Commenter Owes the SEPTA Kids Mom an Apology

septa-kids-new-video-940x540

Since early this week, the city has been reeling over that viral video that shows a group of out-of-control young children on the Market-Frankford El. Commenters have been brutal toward both the kids and their mother. The children’s behavior was appalling, and many feel that the mother didn’t do anything to intervene. But new video has emerged that sheds more light on the incident. Read more »

Your Daily SEPTA Ride Is Good for You (This Is Not a Joke)

Most days, I don’t think my commute on the El is doing much for my life — I mean, aside from upping my gratitude for Purell and providing me with some great dinner-party stories. (“One time, on my way home from work, a human being barked at me — yes, like a dog — for 15 minutes straight.” That is a true story.) But a new study published in the Lancet found that taking public transportation to work instead of driving actually does do you some good, at least when it comes to your waistline, Fast Company reports. Read more »

Mom From SEPTA Kids Video Speaks Out: “He Came at Us, We Didn’t Come at Him”

Left: Screenshot from video of incident on SEPTA. Middle: Jessica Carrera with son. Right: The children from the video enjoying a snack at Old City's Wexler Gallery, shortly before the video was shot.

Left: Screenshot from video of incident on SEPTA. Center: Jessica Carrera with son. Right: The children from the video enjoying a snack at Old City’s Wexler Gallery, shortly before the video was shot.

UPDATE, 3/31/16: Read the latest on the SEPTA kids video.

By now, you’ve probably seen it: A disturbing viral video that shows a group of out-of-control young children on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford El. It has been all over TV news in the last 24 hours.

The group of African-American and Latino kids are seen spitting, cursing, and punching, seemingly targeting the person behind the camera, a white man named Patrick Coyle. Meanwhile, the woman accompanying the children stands quietly nearby.

Well, Philadelphia magazine has seen a different video, captured in the moments before the viral video began, and this new video shows a different perspective. The woman can be seen trying to get the kids in line, and Coyle — who continued to record the children after the woman says she and the kids repeatedly asked him to stop — can clearly be heard calling one of the children a “monkey kid.” Twice.

Here, the woman in the video, Jessica Carreras, 38, tells her side of the story. Carreras is the mother of the Latino children and the aunt of the two African-American kids. The children range in age from 7 to 11. We repeatedly reached out to Coyle, who did not respond to our requests for an interview. Read more »

SEPTA Proposes Budget Increase, But No Fare Hike, for 2017

Septa regional rail train

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

SEPTA has published its proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2017 (PDF), which begins in June. The $1.39 billion operating budget represents an increase of $40 million, or 3.7 percent, from the fiscal 2016 budget, yet is projected to be balanced, as state law requires, largely through an equal increase in federal, state and local government subsidies, with money from the state making up the lion’s share.

The agency expects a slight rise ($788,000) in revenue from operations, with most of that coming from other revenue, as the fiscal 2017 budget contains no fare increase, representing a continued pause in what has become a practice of regular incremental fare hikes at three-year intervals. (SEPTA plans to resume the practice with the fiscal 2018 budget; the last fare hike took place in July 2013.) One of the newer sources of other revenue is the sale of power from storage batteries installed along the Market-Frankford Line to the PJM Interconnection regional power grid, a program that will expand in the years to come with the installation of additional batteries along both the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines. Read more »

How Local Law Enforcement is Responding to the Brussels Attack

SEPTA Chief of Police Thomas Nestel | Mariam Dembele

SEPTA Chief of Police Thomas Nestel | Mariam Dembele

At a press conference held at SEPTA’s Market Street headquarters this morning, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel discussed plans to keep Philly commuters safe in the wake of the Brussels Attack. His main strategies include increased SEPTA Police visibility and requesting that travelers remain vigilant.

Early Tuesday, attacks on Brussels’s airport and metro left at least 30 dead and dozens injured.

“I think that the important thing to remember is that terrorism can’t stop a people,” said Nestel. “We won’t allow terrorists to interfere with our lives and at the same time we want to make sure that our riders, here in Philadelphia, feel safe and secure.”

“We will be more visible and we are asking the public to be more aware,” Nestel said. Read more »

Coming Soon: Two New SEPTA Bus Routes?

Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA wants to hear what you have to say about proposed changes in bus service, including two new routes slated to start service in 2017-18. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

SEPTA’s Annual Service Plan for Fiscal Year 2017 includes two new bus routes that won’t be launched in the coming fiscal year. That’s because the agency wants to get as much public feedback as it can about the proposed services before letting them roll.

Both of them, though, are much anticipated, and one of them responds to longstanding clamor from some Philadelphia neighborhoods for new service to fill a connectivity gap. Here’s the skinny on each of them: Read more »

Insider: How to Incentivize Development In Philly’s Overlooked Neighborhoods

The Paseo Verde complex alongside SEPTA’s Temple University Station is an example of what great transit-oriented development can look like in Philadelphia. | Photo by Ariel Ben-Amos

The Paseo Verde complex alongside SEPTA’s Temple University Station is an example of what great transit-oriented development can look like in Philadelphia. | Photo by Ariel Ben-Amos

(This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

Last week, Councilman and Condo King Allan Domb went public with a proposal to double the city’s controversial tax abatement from 10 to 20 years for properties worth less than $250,000. Domb points out that developers have not invested in neighborhoods in North Philly, West Philly and Southwest Philly the way they have in Greater Center City, and he thinks his legislation will change that.

Whether or not you agree with his proposed solution, it’s undeniable that the problem he identified needs to be fixed. Many Philadelphians are worried — rightly — that they will miss out on the massive growth of Greater Center City. These are residents who are isolated from downtown amenities, as well as those who have been driven out of their former homes by rising housing costs.

But there’s a better way to spur development in outlying neighborhoods than to expand the city’s expensive tax abatement.

Here’s how: The state’s General Assembly should pass Senate Bill 385. It wouldn’t even threaten the school district’s budget the way Domb’s proposal could.

I’ll explain how the bill would work in a second. But first, a history lesson: In 2004, the state legislature sought to support transit-oriented development by passing legislation that allowed SEPTA and the city to forge a partnership that could float bonds in order to help pay for upgrades at transportation stations — and then letting the pair pay back the bonds with the additional real estate taxes that are generated by any improvements made.

These enhancements can include new lights, rehabbed sidewalks and even environmental remediation work. The idea is that by making a train station more accessible or cleaning up a dirty site, a developer will be more apt to build there.

Senate Bill 385 is an update to this law, and it does two things that would be particularly good for Philadelphia. Read more »

Next Steps for 30th Street Area Revealed

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

On the heels of Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust announcing their joint plan to redevelop the area just west of 30th Street Station comes a draft plan for the larger area surrounding the station.

The 30th Street Station District Plan is the product of a coalition that includes not only Drexel and Brandywine but also Amtrak, PennDOT and SEPTA. Like Schuylkill Yards, the larger plan envisions a totally new urban core district emerging around Amtrak’s third-busiest intercity railroad station over the next 35 years. Read more »

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