Weekend shuttle busing on the Chestnut Hill Line continues

Tomorrow and Sunday will be the second weekend out of six of bustitution on the Chestnut Hill West Line for a track maintenance blitz. Catching up to this project six days after it’s started disrupting travel is a new low for timeliness on this blog, which I’m sure that this summer-of-moving will see surpassed, ironically even as SEPTA Regional Rail itself is maintaining high standards for on-time performance.

Shuttle buses are running an inner zone/outer zone pattern, with the cutoff between Allens Lane and Carpenter stations (confirming, if there was any doubt, that Intermediate ridership on the CHW is presently negligible). Trains are meeting buses and turning at North Philadelphia station; times on Fox Chase trains are affected on Saturdays but normal on Sundays. Canny riders with passes may wish to opt for the Broad Street Line between Suburban Station/City Hall and North Philadelphia, although that connection is not guaranteed.

SEPTA also suggests the Chestnut Hill East Line as an alternate, but no extra service is running, in another missed opportunity; the four outer zone stations (CHW, Highland, St Martin’s, and Allen Lane) are less than 15 minutes walk from CHE stations. SEPTA could have had a natural experiment in what 30 minute headways on weekends did to CHE ridership, under the guise of saving a bus and a driver for the shuttle operation. (The details would be more complicated than that, due to the legalities regarding the presence of ADA accessible stations on the CHW line, but the concept still holds.)

The Saturday bustitution schedule is here (PDF).
The Sunday bustitution schedule is here (PDF).
Outbound Fox Chase trains run 10 minutes later than scheduled on SATURDAYS ONLY.


NHSL King of Prussia Scoping Meeting tonight

The planners working on Round N+1 of the effort to bring a Norristown High Speed Line branch to King of Prussia are having a public scoping meeting tonight at the Valley Forge Radisson, from 4:00p to 8:00p. The main presentation will be at 6:00p. This will be the public kickoff of the Environmental Impact Statement process, which hopefully will take less time and be more fruitful this time around.

The Radisson at Valley Forge is adjacent to the Valley Forge Casino, and is reachable via SEPTA Routes 99, 125, and 139. SEPTA is also laying in extra shuttle bus service from Norristown Transportation Center; that schedule can be found in PDF form here.

NHSL Bridgeport Viaduct closes tonight for at least four months: what you should know

The Bridgeport Viaduct, which carries the Norristown High Speed Line over the Schuylkill River between its namesake borough and Norristown Transportation Center, is in bad shape. Bad enough that SEPTA announced last December that it does not believe it will be safe to ride over after this summer, unless repairs are started pronto. Unfortunately, the capital funding crisis has meant, among other things, that basic maintenance like fixing the bridge has been put off for years, until now when it’s critical. Fortunately, SEPTA was able to scare up just enough money to do a temporary fix to this critical link in the regional network. It’s not really enough, but it will do for now, until the deadlock breaks in Harrisburg.

Starting tomorrow (Monday, 8 July), the NHSL will not serve Norristown. Shuttle buses will be provided. Mondays through Fridays, the NHSL will go as far as Bridgeport, and shuttle buses will run between Bridgeport and NTC. Weekends, NHSL trains will terminate at Hughes Park. Since Hughes Park is not an ADA accessible station, the shuttle buses will instead run from Gulph Mills, and stop at DeKalb and Bridgeport stations on their way to NTC.

The fix being done now is replacing the ties installed in 1985 and at the end of their service life, plus some band-aids applied to structural elements. It will not cure the entire litany of structural problems of the 101-year-old bridge, but it will allow service to reopen this year. NHSL service over the viaduct does not have a fixed reopening date, but it is expected to happen in November. That’s better than we expected in December, when we thought “temporarily suspended” might mean for Norristown what it meant for West Chester, Newtown, and Bethlehem. But we need to keep leaning on legislators in Harrisburg to fund SEPTA sufficiently that we aren’t repeating this dance in three years, either here at the Schuylkill on the NHSL, or at Crum Creek on the Media/Elwyn Line, which SEPTA has indicated is the most endangered bridge in the system after Bridgeport. Our predecessors skimped on prevention; now we need many pounds of cure.

Got the wrong pass? SEPTA somehow anticipated that might happen.

Even the Nicest People On Earth don’t give a shit about Philadelphia.

Did the pass rule changes that went into effect on this Canada Day screw you? SEPTA Customer Service would like you to know that you can trade in your pass for the one you need. Just bring your already-purchased pass, plus the difference in cost, to a SEPTA Sales Window (like the one at, say, 69th Street Terminal). There, you’ll be able to trade in and upgrade your pass, so if you erroneously thought that a Transpass would still get you on the NHSL, you can fix that and get a Zone 1 Trailpass for only $10.

SEPTA, Serious About Not Being An Asshole.