Saturday, October 23, 2004


feeling bad for septa

As someone who LOVES public transportation but DESPISES SEPTA, I think I can explain why there has been no outcry.

First of all, we go through this every year it seems. SEPTA runs a deficit, threatens to shut down services, Harrisburg balks, and life goes on as usual. It starts to sound like crying wolf.

Second of all, SEPTA's treatment of its riders hardl inspires loyalty. Buses and trolleys that show up when they feel like it; tunnels that seem to ALWAYS be closed for repairs (man, I moved here 5 years ago and you're STILL testing the signal system?); cashiers that don't give change; emergency callboxes that don't work; stations that smell like bowel movements... you name it. With friends like SEPTA, who can blame riders for not wanting to help out?

Third, City Council has done little to improve the situation and does little to support either SEPTA or its riders. SEPTA spent millions of dollars to refurbish those gorgeous Streamline Moderne cars for the Girard line, which indirectly helped push up East Girard's property values as the neighborhood seemed to be improving, and then the 59th Street neghborhood threw a wrench in the works, refusing to let SEPTA use the street as a turnaround. Instead of working with everyone, Michael Nutter and Jannie Blackwell put the kibosh on a project that would have really helped our city.

Personally, I hope SEPTA DOES have to shut down this winter. I say this knowing how badly I'll be hurt if they do: I don't own a car and rely on SEPTA to get to work from December through March (when spring hits, I'm back on my bicycle). However, if the buses, trains, and trolleys
disappeared you'd see a big ding in the local and regional economy, especially on weekends; angry commuters stuck in traffic; angry people from the suburbs (ie people with money) unable to get to work or into the city for a weekend's entertainment; angry college kids at Penn, Drexel, and Temple; malls and shopping center with decreasing revenues. If SEPTA really wanted to stick it to the legislature, they'd shut down the trains and buses going to the Sports Complex: Ouch. It would be extremely ugly and might be just the drastic measure to force Harrisburg to pony up the dedicated funding.

It makes me so sad to look at historic maps of Philadelphia's trolley lines: every street had a trolley or a street car, even rural areas. Today we see tracks and power wires on streets like 11th and 12th just gathering dust. What a jewel we used to have here. It's like a diamond that's turned into a lump of coal.
What a sad sad joke.
Brendan Skwire

"Geringer, Dan" [] wrote:
Wow --- elegantly and accurately stated. Can I quote some of your thoughts in future SEPTA pieces?

Dan G.


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