First, the emergency board appointed by President Obama to deal with the mini-SEPTA strike we had last month announced its findings. The upshot, says the Inquirer, is that members of the engineers and electrical workers unions should get the deal that SEPTA management has been offering for years:
There’s so much tiny little transit news today I’m compiling it all into one post. Let’s do this, people.
PATCO Will Soon Have Fans
No, PATCO doesn’t have a large cheering section headed to a station. But it is installing actual fans — the kind that circulate air — at two Center City stations. The 9th/10th and 12th/13th stops will get fans by the end of next week.
Due to reduced service caused by the extensive track work on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, PATCO is operating fewer trains this summer. Riders are being forced to stand on the platforms longer and, well, it’s been quite hot recently. The fans should help a little, I guess.
Computer wonk Nate Good recently released a few infographics about DUIs in Philly. Here’s the trend: From April 2013 to the end of the year, DUIs declined 11 percent. Looking at Good’s charts, DUIs have been trending downward for the last few years.
Anecdotally, this makes sense. First, the obvious: Mass transit ridership is way up — SEPTA had its highest ridership in 57 years in 2013 — and fewer people driving means fewer DUIs. But even if a side effect of fewer people driving is a reduction in DUIs, that’s a nice side effect.
Good is from Pittsburgh; there, he’s a proponent of (sigh) “e-hailing” services like Uber and Lyft. They were both recently banned in that city by the state’s Public Utilities Commission. He believes the drop in Philadelphia is partially due the ubiquity and availability of these apps. In Philadelphia, unlike Pittsburgh, the PPA regulates taxis — and only Sidecar was kicked out of Philly. (UberX, the company’s lower-cost option, only operates in South Jersey; Lyft doesn’t operate here.)
When Martha and the Vandellas sang, “It’s like a heatwave, burning in my heart,” they weren’t talking about Philadelphia in July. In Philadelphia, the heat waves tend to burn every where except our hearts: On the sidewalks, on our skin and in the crowded public corridors of city living. Nowhere is this more evident than on public transit. Frequent commuters know that the rules of riding SEPTA are often unspoken, but they hang in the air even when the humidity level drops below 98 percent. These rules, like our affection for the Phillies, change seasonally. (For the winter dos and don’ts, click here.)
Here, a rundown of how to keep your commute peaceful and, hopefully, just a little bit less gross:
When you think of people who owe property taxes, you imagine an out-of-town landlord who doesn’t care that his blighted building is falling apart. You don’t tend to think of a major public agency that owes millions of dollars, but that’s the story here: SEPTA owes the city almost $22 million. Given that much of the city’s property taxes go to the schools, and given that the city is ready to sell its soul to fund the schools, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn it’s giving SEPTA a pass on that hefty bill.
It doesn’t seem as though the city necessarily wanted this to become public. Here’s how philly.com’s Sam Wood puts it:
A new 30-year agreement between the transit agency and city goes into effect on July 1 and it absolves SEPTA of the requirement to make good on the delinquency, which came to light in data collected by an economist at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. Philly.com recently obtained the data.
And here’s the least persuasive answer to the question of why SEPTA hasn’t paid its taxes–an answer that sounds like something a kid would say when asked why he didn’t turn in his homework:
Apparently, all those people who signed petitions asking SEPTA to run the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines all night really did prefer taking the train rather than the bus home after a night on the town.
According to SEPTA spokesperson Manny Smith, figures for the first full weekend of overnight rapid transit service show ridership jumps of 40 to 59 percent compared to baseline ridership for the Night Owl buses.
Remember last week’s one-day strike by SEPTA’s Regional Rail workers? It shut down when President Obama created a federal mediation board to resolve the situation. Well: Today the federal mediators are in town. It could be a very long process.
While SEPTA Regional Rail trains are back to work thanks to an order by President Barack Obama, there is apparently no progress in talks between SEPTA and the union representing workers on city and suburban bus, trolley and elevated/subway lines.
Talks between Transit Workers Union Local 234 and SEPTA management are stalled over health care cost sharing. Currently, union members pay 1 percent toward health care.
A SEPTA labor relations official wrote that the union has been “bombarding the Authority with detailed requests for health care information.”
Upper Darby Police say the so-called “Knockout Game” might be responsible for this video of a young man suddenly —viciously attacking a commuter as the commuter waited for a trolley.
The attack occurred last week at the Aronimink trolley stop. No arrests have yet been made.
“It could have been worse because they did hit me with glasses on, and they could have sent my glasses right into my eyes,” said the victim. “I take anxiety medicine and it was quite a setback.” (Fox 29)