Dear Suburbanites: Stop Whining About the “Horrid” Regional Rail Conditions
It seems like everyone we know who lives in the suburbs has been griping about one thing and one thing only this week. No, not the sorry state of American politics. No, not their post-Brexit stock portfolios. No, the cause du jour for everyone from Paoli to Warminster is SEPTA’s Regional Rail service.
In case you somehow missed the memo, SEPTA announced — just as we were all getting into July 4th carnivore mode — that it was taking 120 of its Regional Rail cars off of the tracks because of a potentially perilous defect. Basically, that amounts to a third of the suburban fleet.
Since then, we’ve heard suburbanites go on and on about how inconvenienced they are by the crowded trains. Imagine the horror of having to put your purse on your lap instead of on the seat next to you, of having to take care not to bump your neighbor as you turn the pages of your Wall Street Journal, of having to … shudder … stand.
Yesterday, I suggested to one friend that he could take the Norristown High Speed Line and switch to the Market-Frankford El instead of dealing with Regional Rail. He rolled his eyes. And then today, I mentioned the 44 bus — that’s a route that goes from Bala Cynwyd right into Center City — to a woman from Bala Cynwyd, who seemed to have no clue of its existence or any interest in taking it. Instead, her mom drove her to work. How nice!
Obviously, if any of these people had taken a bus, trolley, subway or the El recently, they would realize that being a little squished now and then is just part of the game. They should try taking the Broad Street Line from City Hall to Oregon Avenue at 5:30 p.m. Or take a ride at rush hour on any of the trolley lines. I ride the Route 10 every day between Overbrook and 19th Street, and if you’re getting on anywhere east of Mantua heading toward Center City, a seat is a rarely obtained miracle.
Or, forget Philadelphia for a minute. People in Boston would kill for a public transportation system that runs as efficiently as SEPTA, as would folks in certain parts of the New York City boroughs. Just ask any bona fide New Yorker about the L train. Make sure you have plenty of time.
And who can forget Japan. You want to see a crowded train? Book a flight to Tokyo and then tell me just how uncomfortable your ride from Swarthmore to Suburban Station on Wednesday morning was, Sport.
The fact is, SEPTA is one of the best public transit systems around, and on its most underperforming days, it still beats the pants off other systems around the globe.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.