Broad Street Run, Festivals Will Make a Mess of SEPTA All Weekend Long

SEPTAbus48-driving-behind-taxi

A weekend full of festivals and the Broad Street Run on Sunday will cause detours on a slew of SEPTA bus routes.

The reroutings begin at 8 p.m. Friday, when all of the bus routes that run on or cross the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 19th to 23rd streets — Routes 7, 32, 33, 38 and 48 — will be detoured for the Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival. The detours will remain in effect until at least 11 p.m. Saturday.

Three more detours begin early Saturday morning: Read more »

SEPTA on Demand? How the Uber Model Can Save Bus Transit

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Bus stops are so 19th Century. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

The first urban bus route was created in London in 1829. Four horse-drawn coaches would make the 4.5 mile trip from Paddington to Bank Junction daily, picking up passengers and dropping them off at pre-determined points. Within 50 years, horse-drawn bus services were common in Europe. As technology developed, the buses switched to steam power, then fossil fuels, and, increasingly, biodiesel or natural gas. But the basic urban busing model — big vehicles, fixed routes, waiting passengers — that hasn’t changed a bit, really.

Which is a bigger problem for the nation’s transit agencies than they seem to realize.

A growing number of Uber-inspired transportation startups are popping up in a handful of cities across the country, offering transit-like services, albeit, for now, on a far, far smaller scale than traditional transit agencies. Bridj, in Boston and Washington D.C., uses luxurious shuttles and data-driven routing, and charges $6 a ride. The easily-ridiculed Leap Transit in San Francisco offers much the same, plus wi-fi and irritatingly hip snacks. Lyft now has Lyft Line, Uber has Uberpool. The sector even has its first flop — a ride-sharing service in Las Vegas called Shift went belly-up early this month — and a new, appropriately wonky moniker: microtransit, which seeks to fill the gap between individual cars and big old trains or full-sized buses. It’s surely only a matter of time before a similar service pops up in Philadelphia.

Uber has emerged as a massive competitive threat to the taxi industry. Could these new startups threaten mass transit? Read more »

Officials: We’re Ready for “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest

Photo | Jack Cotter

In December, Ferguson protesters interrupted traffic in much of Center City. | Jack Cotter

Philadelphia officials said today they’re ready for today’s “Philly Is Baltimore” protest at City Hall. No traffic or transit detours were planned — yet — but the city’s court system said it would close for business by mid-afternoon “out of an abundance of caution.” Read more »

SEPTA Wants to Split the 23 Into Two Routes: The 23 and the 45

SEPTA Route 23 Bus and Michael Jordan

Photos: Route 23 bus by GK tramrunner229; Michael Jordan by Steve Lipofsky of Basketballphoto.com

Last month, SEPTA announced it was seeking to split the 23 bus into two routes. This is notable because the 23 gets more complaints than any other bus line in the city.

It’s an incredibly long route, going from Chestnut Hill to South Philadelphia. As a result, it gets crowded and buses end up skipping stops. Until 1992, it operated as a trolley. SEPTA wants to split the line into two routes: A northern route — which would remain the 23 — would go between Chestnut Hill and Chestnut Street in Center City. The southern route — which would be christened the 45 — would go between Noble Street in Eraserhood to Oregon Avenue in South Philly.

Did you catch that? SEPTA is splitting the 23 into two routes: 23 and 45, Michael Jordan’s two numbers! Clearly, this is a tribute to the man who played his last professional game in Philadelphia, right? Read more »

Millennials Hate Cars, Right? Wrong.

Source: Shutterstock.com

Source: Shutterstock.com

Millennials hate cars. They’re all about Uber and bicycles and subways, right? Well, apparently the conventional wisdom is now wrong. Like really wrong. According to a Bloomberg report out this week, there’s been a steep rise in Gen-Y car buyers over the past five years:

They’ve zoomed past Gen X to become the second-largest group of new car buyers after their boomer parents. Millennials are starting to find jobs and relocating to the suburbs and smaller cities, where public transport is spotty.

Citing J.D. Power & Associates data, Bloomberg writes that in 2010, Millennials accounted for 18 percent of new car sales in the U.S.; in 2014, they were buying 27 percent of cars sold. This suggests that Millennials weren’t steering clear of cars because they preferred life as pedestrians, but rather because they couldn’t afford cars, what with the dismal job market and the Great Recession. Now that wages and employment are picking up for Millennials, they’re the fastest-growing market for auto-sales. Read more »

Seniors Cleverly Made 11,000 SEPTA Key Trips in March

Photo by Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

For most of us, the highly-anticipated SEPTA Key system won’t be up and running until sometime “later in 2015.” Only then will we never again be forced to scrounge up exact change — the new system will accept money stored for SEPTA rides on debit and credit cards!

But for seniors, the Key system is already working in parts of the city.

Wait, how does that work? Read more »

Man in Eagles Jacket Rescues SEPTA Passenger from El Tracks

A man in an Eagles jacket jumped onto the subway tracks to rescue a man who had fallen on to the Market-Frankford El tracks at 15th Street on Wednesday, according to surveillance video released by SEPTA yesterday. And they say Eagles fans never do anything for the people!

After the man in the Eagles jacket jumped onto the tracks, other passengers then pulled up the passenger and the rescuer. They then attended to the man who was injured falling onto the tracks. (He appeared to be looking at his phone and was walking on the yellow “don’t walk here” platform border.) SEPTA police then arrived; the man who fell onto to the tracks did not suffer life-threatening injuries. All in all, it was an uplifting example of people’s ability to help out in a crisis. Go Philadelphia!

SEPTA, though, would prefer it if passengers didn’t jump onto the tracks to save people. Read more »

A Look at What 69th Street’s West Terminal Will Look Like After Renovations

2012 rendering of a renovated North Platform at 69th Street Transportation Center | Image by Sowinski Sullivan Architects via SEPTA.com

Proposed new look for 69th Street Transportation Center’s North Platform | Image by Sowinski Sullivan Architects via SEPTA.com

The 69th Street Transportation Center is well over a century old, so it’s not like the sprucing of one of its three buildings is unwarranted. According to a SEPTA press release,  the 69th Street Transportation Center West Terminal Improvement Project will involve the following upgrades to its West Terminal wing:

• Reconstructing pedestrian ramps to terminal platforms, the North and Center Platforms and canopies and Center Platform waiting area

• Partially reconstructing the South Platform

• Enhancing safety and security efforts by installing cameras

Read more »

Egyptian Religious Authority Condemns Anti-Islam Ads on SEPTA

SEPTA-bus-fusco

The controversy about those anti-Islam ads on SEPTA buses has gone international. (See the ads in question here.)

An organization described as Egypt’s “most prominent religious authority” has condemned the ads as a “racist” attempt to “incite bigotry against Islam.” Dar Al-Ifta posted the condemnation to its Facebook page today, as well as to its English-language web siteRead more »

9 Reasons Not to Observe April Fools’ Day in Philly

Clothespin photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia | Broad-Ridge Spur map via SEPTA | Milton Street photo by Jeff Fusco | Lenfest Plaza photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Clothespin photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia | Broad-Ridge Spur map via SEPTA | Milton Street photo by Jeff Fusco | Lenfest Plaza photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

In some parts of the country, I can see how April Fool’s Day has the potential to be fun. Everyone likes a good prank, and even a lame one deserves some credit on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon.

But in Philly? This city messes with our heads year-round.

I’m not talking about the cute, folksy, “how-weird-is-Philly?!” stuff that populates Buzzfeed lists. If you’ve spent 15 minutes here, the Mummers make perfect sense: glitter, feathers, booze. So does Wing Bowl: meat, boobs, booze. (Was that really so hard? Act like you know and let’s never speak of this again.)

No, I’m talking about the arbitrary, home-grown psychological warfare that Philadelphia wages on a daily basis, seemingly for sport.

Every day is April Fool’s Day around these parts, and after enduring the below petty mind games, we owe it to each other to abstain from the holiday. Or, at the very least, direct all of our efforts toward the PPA. Read more »

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