The One Big Problem With Bringing Amtrak to City Hall


“Ladies and gentlemen, the next station stop for this train is City Hall station in Philadelphia. Please check your seat and make sure you have all personal belongings with you as you leave the train. Thank you for riding Amtrak.”

At least one Philadelphian would love to hear this announcement. In an essay in the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday, Bob Previdi, former spokesperson for City Council member Anna Verna, noted that running Amtrak trains through the heart of the city, stopping at a renamed Suburban Station on the way to New York, would offer all sorts of benefits: increased convenience for Amtrak travelers, increased property values for homes and offices now closer to intercity rail service, and even luring New Yorkers to Philly to live, as their commutes and their tax bills would both shrink.

There’s a lot that’s appealing about this idea. 30th Street Station, grand though it is, is across the river from the heart of the city, and Previdi is far from the only person who would love to see restored the city center access that was lost when Broad Street Station was closed in 1952. And he is right to note that this city, like London, has already made a major investment in easy rail access in the form of the Commuter Tunnel.

But in saying that the only thing standing in the way of operating Amtrak service through the Commuter Tunnel is the political will to bring the passenger and freight railroads together to implement the through-tunnel service, he is ignoring one big fact on the ground.

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9 Golden Rules of Amtrak Etiquette

Darn! I missed National Train Day on May 10th. But in reality I have a lot of train days. That’s because I’ve been using Amtrak frequently over the past few months. And I’m not alone: Amtrak reportedly carries 31.5 million passengers a year and if trends continue, by 2040 ridership could reach 43.5 million. And I’m pretty sure all of those passengers were on the 6:25 Northeast Regional with me last night coming home from New York.

Were you on that train? Well, you snore. And also, please, out of respect for me and all the other 31.5 million fellow passengers, I hope you follow these 10 rules of etiquette.
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Funding Secured, SEPTA Plans to Rebuild City Hall Station; Part of a Long List of Improvements

Septa regional rail train

In the long, hard slog to secure stable funding for transportation statewide, SEPTA stressed that without it, its system would die a slow, painful death.

So, having now been through that near-death experience, SEPTA’s five-year capital budget proposal wisely avoids talk of new routes or extensions, save for one that was already in the pipeline when the funding crisis hit. Instead, at public open houses Feb. 26, SEPTA presented a five-year capital program that addresses each of the items that would have caused that slow death.

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Will $45 Million Buy the Governor a Transportation Bill?

PA Governor Tom Corbett

Yesterday’s announcement that Gov. Corbett would release $45 million in education spending was met with both relief and confusion. Since disclosing the money’s existence in spring—the $45 million came from the forgiveness of a loan by the federal government—Corbett has leveraged it as one of his main bargaining chips, promising its return to the city only when his notoriously vague demands for ”academic reforms” had been met. Immediately after Superintendent William Hite issued a directive yesterday that principals do not have to use seniority as the sole determining factor in making hiring decisions, Corbett announced that his office would make the money available.

“Significant progress has been made that allows me to confer with my secretary, and we have decided to release the $45 million,” he told a press conference yesterday.

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Orbitz Does Q and Gay

Philly friend Miss Richfield 1981 explains why not all travel sites are created equal in a new ad touting “Q and Gay” from Orbitz just in time for summer vacation season. She tells us that the site’s been an LGBT ally for more than a decade – and it’s the only online agency with a perfect Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign.

Check it out:

SEPTA Says Goodbye to Transpass IDs

SEPTA's letter to RAGE (please click to enlarge)

After a lengthy grassroots campaign by Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE), SEPTA said yesterday that it would remove gender stickers from all monthly transit passes by 2013. A fare policy proposal will be submitted to SEPTA’s board of directors that includes this change beginning in the second half of next year, says RAGE.

SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey has said that the stickers would be phased out when the new fare card system went into place, but according to a letter he sent to Max Ray this week, SEPTA will eliminate the gender IDs sooner after almost three years of protesting them on the grounds that they discriminate against transgender people throughout the region.

“We are so thrilled to have won this historic victory for transgender and gender non-conforming SEPTA riders,” Max Ray, a founding member of RAGE, tells us exclusively. Ray has been keeping us updated about this campaign for the past year. “We won this victory by bringing together riders of all genders to take action demanding SEPTA and City Council recognize our right to safe and accessible public transit,” he says. “We are pleased SEPTA followed the lead of the trans community, their riders, their own advisory boards and City Council in recognizing the need to remove the stickers.”

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