Catching up, and the incoming storm

I’ve been out of town for the last three weeks, and it’s been quite busy in the Delaware Valley. To recap:

  • The big news is SEPTA holding the first public meetings for the newest incarnation of the King of Prussia Rail project. With the KoP Business Improvement District as co-sponsors and motivating forces, this latest version of the #1 item on the regional wishlist looks much more likely to succeed than its predecessors, if for no other reason than that this time, it’s being investigated as a standalone project on its own merits. The public presentation materials are online at http://kingofprussiarail.com/virtualmeeting.html; the current focus is on alignment alternatives between the existing Norristown High Speed Line and the Mall complex.
  • New SEPTA timetables are out, and the changeover to the new Regional Rail schedules will take place this Sunday, February 10th. The Transit Division will follow suit on the February 17th and 18th.
  • In the ongoing fights against petty corruption and car culture, nine current and former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges were indicted on charges related to ticket-fixing. With all but one of the active judges indicted and therefore automatically suspended without pay, the State Senate is considering legislation to abolish the court entirely, and fold responsibility into the Municipal Court docket. If the end of widespread ticket fixing improves the safety of our streets, we are very much in favor of these developments (in addition to corrupt city officials getting nailed to the wall, which is its own reward).
  • A gas leak at Fern Rock TC disrupted Broad Street Subway, bus, and Regional Rail service near the end of Wednesday morning’s rush hour. SEPTA’s ticktock and apology to disrupted riders was up on septa.org by the next morning, and is an exemplar of the genre. We applaud the clear communication with riders, which is, ah, traditionally lacking at SEPTA. May the trend continue.
  • An approaching winter storm today and tomorrow has yet to produce any SEPTA service disruptions, but NJT is cross-honoring bus, rail, and light rail fares today and tomorrow. Given that the Philadelphia area is only expected to get about 4-6 inches of snow, while New York gets 12″ and Boston gets 30″+, expect local transit to remain relatively undisrupted, especially compared to our neighbors to the northeast (best of luck to them!). Monitor SEPTA.org, RidePatco.org, NJTransit.com, and the Twitter feeds for service advisories. Be especially careful around slippery platform edges, consider leaving work early today if possible, to get out ahead of the storm’s arrival, and plan ahead in case you need to seek alternate transportation. Stay safe out there!
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Shuttle buses replace the MFL this weekend. Why?

SEPTA is performing maintenance on the Market-Frankford Line in Center City this weekend, and will be running shuttle buses from 11th Street to 30th street all day Saturday and Sunday while through service is suspended. Additionally, single tracking will occur 8th St-15th St after 22:00 Friday, and 8th St-13th St Saturday and Sunday. See the Service Advisory on septa.org for all the details.

While I approve of SEPTA taking proactive measures to achive and maintain a state of good repair, and a full weekend shutdown will give plenty of time for repairs too complex to be done overnight, I have to object to the use of shuttle buses to bridge the gap between the 69th-30th and FTC-13th services. The Market St corridor is the main commercial axis of the City of Philadelphia, and is served by three rail transit modes: the MFL, the Subway-Surface trolleys, and the RRD Center City tunnel. On weekdays, each serves a different travel market and runs at capacity at rush hour, with each complementing the other two. On the weekend, with none of the three running anywhere near capacity, it should be possible to compensate for the loss of the one solely with the other two, without resort to busing.

Continue reading Shuttle buses replace the MFL this weekend. Why?

Holiday Schedules

As a reminder, SEPTA is running modified schedules for the holiday season.

  • City transit schedules have been adjusted for the weekdays through December 31st.
  • Christmas Day will have a Sunday/Holiday schedule on the transit side and less than that on Regional Rail.
  • Extra late-night Regional Rail service has been added [PDF] for New Year’s Eve partygoers leaving Center City after the midnight fireworks.
  • New Year’s Day will have a Sunday/Holiday schedule on both the transit and Regional Rail sides of the system.

PATCO has posted special schedules for Christmas Eve [PDF] and Christmas Day [PDF].

NJ Transit will be running Sunday/Holiday service on the Atlantic City Line and River Line on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and modified schedules on South Jersey bus lines; details can be found here.

Here at STP, we wish you the blessings of the season, and a safe and warm holiday, wherever it may take you.