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?

shutterstock_98638544

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 »

Morning Headlines: What Will 30th Street Station Look Like in 2040?

30th st station

We already know that our beloved 30th Street Station–yes, we’re still calling it that–is one of the busiest hubs in the nation. But what will it be like in the year 2040? As Jim Saksa of PlanPhilly points out, that’s partially up to you, boss:

The district plan is a joint effort by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, SEPTA and other stakeholders to create an implementable vision for the 175-acre area surrounding the station.

In the coming months, the team will develop three different scenarios for the district come 2040. Following another round of public feedback and feasibility studies, those three scenarios will be synthesized into a single District Plan, which will be fully implementable the day it’s released (sometime around fall 2016).

So, do you really want to see the rail yards north of 30th Street Station capped and turned into a platform for the next office and residential towers in a confluence of transportation, residential and commercial activity? Then you kind of have to get involved.

In order for the rail yard cap to happen, that land (technically, the air rights above it) needs to be worth enough to justify the tremendous cost of covering it. Just as the development of Hudson Yards is covering the price of putting a lid on the West Side Yard, burying the rail yard would be effectively paid for with the rent from the skyscrapers built on top.

Here’s to get (and stay) involved in the process. You can also take this handy survey to help out even more!

Will plans for 30th St. Station District include capping rail yards? That’s up to you [PlanPhilly]

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