Reading Terminal Market Just Got a Much Needed Tech Upgrade

TransitScreen display mounted on the back wall of Reading Terminal Market | Photo courtesy of TransitScreen

Shoppers can now be even more care-free when strolling the aisles of Reading Terminal Market. Thanks to the addition of two LED flat-screens to the market’s back wall, visitors can see live-updated information on the status of their rides home.

The new TransitScreen displays use open source API data to show arrival times and availability information for SEPTA (buses, trains, and trolleys) and PATCO, and even availability for bikes via Indego and cars via Zipcar, and Uber.

“Because the display lists the intersection where the station is and how far of a walk it is from Reading Terminal, someone will know if they have time to get there,” TransitScreen communications manager Rachel Karitis told Philadelphia magazine. And the screens display the routes of select bus, train and trolley lines. Read more »

SEPTA Shows Off Beam Work as First Silverliner Vs Roll Again

Finished equalizer beams await attachment of their feet at the PennFab plant in Bensalem. | Photos: Sandy Smith; graphics: SEPTA

Finished equalizer beams await attachment of their feet at the PennFab plant in Bensalem. | Photos: Sandy Smith; graphics: SEPTA

At 8:49 this morning, the first four SEPTA Silverliner V railcars to be repaired were returned to service on an inbound run to Center City from Fox Chase.

At about the same time in Bensalem, workers at PennFab, Inc. turned on a plasma cutting machine and carved the 342nd of 400 new equalizer beams that are being installed on the Silverliner Vs’ trucks as members of the news media looked on.

SEPTA management invited reporters up to Bensalem this morning for a briefing on how the project to replace the beams is progressing, including a show-and-tell explaining how the replacements are being made. Read more »

Three Years of Route 202 Construction Have Reached an End

Progress photo taken in May 2016, 3 years after the project commenced.

Progress photo taken by PennDOT in May 2016, three years after the project commenced.

Chester County drivers are in for a pleasant surprise next week. The widening of a 2.5 mile section of Route 202 in East Whiteland Township, a project that began in April of 2013, is coming to an end.  Read more »

SEPTA GM on This Morning’s Commute: We’re Getting There

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Two of the three trainsets SEPTA has borrowed from Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration and New Jersey Transit went into service for this morning’s commute, Day One of the new interim weekday schedule. So how did the morning commute go?

According to General Manager Jeff Knueppel, not bad — considering. “We’re still seeing delays and crowding on the railroad, but we’re continuing to make things better,” he said at a news conference on the afternoon of Monday, July 11th.

Knueppel said that the agency was now actually running more car-trips than on its regular weekday schedule. (A car trip is when one railcar completes a run between end points. For example, a six-car train that runs from Lansdale to Center City makes six car trips.) But it’s doing so with longer, less frequent trains of six to eight cars each, so while the total number of car trips has increased, the total number of train trips remains well below normal weekday levels. The new schedule’s figure of 574 train trips is up from 549 last week but still below the normal weekday figure of 788. Read more »

Details Emerge on SEPTA Silverliner V Defect

All 120 of SEPTA's Silverliner V Regional Rail cars have been removed from service due to a "serious structural defect." | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

All 120 of SEPTA’s Silverliner V Regional Rail cars have been removed from service for inspection and repair due to a “serious structural defect” in the cars’ wheel assemblies. | Photo by O484~enwiki from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0

 

Earlier this afternoon, SEPTA announced that all 120 of its Silverliner V Regional Rail cars had been removed from service due to a “serious structural defect.”

More information is now available about the nature of the defect. Read more »

I Tried SEPTA Key — and I Think it Works

SEPTA Key card. Photo by Jared Brey.

SEPTA Key card. Photo by Jared Brey.

Eat my dust, Philadelphia. I got SEPTA’s new payment technology.

This morning at 6 o’clock, stations around the city began accepting “early adopters” for the SEPTA Key electronic fare system. They’ll disburse up to 10,000 fare cards today. If you don’t make the early cut, you may have to wait until the full rollout of the system late this year. Read more »

Here’s How the SEPTA-Uber Suburban Connection Works

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Today’s the day that SEPTA Regional Rail riders no longer have to worry about finding a parking space at 11 of the system’s busiest suburban stations.

That’s because of a pilot partnership between SEPTA and Uber that seeks to find new ways to fill the “last mile” gap between home and the train.  Read more »

Reading Viaduct Park Would Make Getting Around Philly Easier

Before and after.

The Reading Viaduct today — and tomorrow? | Photo by Malcolm Burnley and rendering via Friends of the Rail Park

Last September, after visiting the new Whitney Museum in New York, I climbed up to the High Line for what I thought would be a breezy stroll with gorgeous views of the Meatpacking District. How wrong I was. Between the people jockeying for avant-garde lawn chairs and the gaggles of camera-toting tourists, the foot traffic crawled along at an infuriating pace.

The park was designed for 600,000 visitors per year; last year, there were 6 million. Though the High Line remains an international beacon of innovative green space (it has also invited lots of deep-pocketed developers into the once-sleepy Chelsea neighborhood), it’s not a functional piece of the urban grid. You can lick all the $8 popsicles you want there, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a good way of getting around the Lower West Side.

All of which made me believe that the rallying cry in Philly to create a High Line-esque park out of the rusting Reading Viaduct and adjacent railroad tunnels — together, they form a continuous stretch of land going from Chinatown to Fairmount Park — was mostly about beautification, and not at all about improving mobility. That’s why I left it off Philly Mag’s recent list of “20 Smart Transportation Ideas Reshaping Philadelphia (and Your Life).” Was it one of the 20 coolest urbanism projects around? Surely. But was it going to change the way we moved around the city? Meh.

Someone begged to differ. “Think about being in West Poplar or NoLibs, riding a few blocks to Fairmount and 9th, taking an elevator up onto the Viaduct and then riding all the way to PMA or Boathouse Row, and [you] only have to stop for cars when crossing Kelly Drive,” Michael Garden wrote to me on Facebook. Alright, that got my attention. Read more »

Philadelphia Scientific’s Owner Has a Bright Idea: Electric Roads

Frank Hebbert | Flickr | Shared under a Creative Commons license.

Frank Hebbert | Flickr | Shared under a Creative Commons license.

With the exception of Tesla, electric cars haven’t gotten very far with the American car-buying public — or manufacturers for that matter. One reason? Keeping them on the road is hard. They either need big, cumbersome batteries, or more recharging stations than currently exist. And the conundrum gets more pressing when you consider the coming advent of driverless — yes, driverless — cars that advocates envision will be on the road perpetually, never parking.

Will Jones, the owner of Montgomeryville-based Philadelphia Scientific, has helped offer a possible answer: Electric roads.

No, the entire road wouldn’t be electrified: Instead, a metal charging strip would be embedded in highways — creating miniature trolleys of a sort — ensuring travelers don’t run out of juice far away from home or civilization. The proposal just won an innovation award from the Smart Transportation Alliance. Read more »

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