Entrance closed for cement work?

An entrance to the Market-Frankford Line at the 11th St Station has been closed since Wednesday due to cement work on the sidewalk on 11th Street from Market to Ludlow streets.

Why was this work done during the busy work week and not over a weekend?  And why has the entrance been closed for 2 days already and not just for 24 hours at most?  Shouldn’t transit commuters and pedestrians be top priority when work is done in the public right of way?

Finally, if non-emergency work is scheduled that requires the closure of transit entrances, local government departments and SEPTA should publicize the information in advance so that riders get a heads up before being inconvenienced.  Feel free to send an email to septawatch@gmail.com with advance notice of scheduled work so that our readers are aware of potential inconveniences ahead of time.

Renovation finally starts at Wayne Junction

Snow at Wayne Junction

On August 28, 2007, we first wrote about a planned community meeting in Germantown to solicit community input on the renovation of the historic Wayne Junction station.  The Wayne Junction station dates from the 1880s.  Today it serves five regional rail lines and a couple bus lines.  And it’s definitely showing its age.

But in January, construction has gotten underway on an $18 million renovation of the station.  Planned renovations include:

  • New elevators and an ADA-compliant egress throughout the station
  • New high level platform on the inbound platform and repairs to the existing high level outbound platform
  • Rehabilitation of the historic site features, including the station building, Germantown Headhouse, and canopies
  • Restoration of passenger tunnels and stairways from Wayne Avenue, Germantown Avenue and Windrim Avenue
  • Improved passenger amenities including audio-visual public announcement system, signage, windscreens and benches
  • Painting the Chestnut Hill East Line Wayne Avenue Bridge

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, check out SEPTA’s Gateway to Germantown homepage.  Or, as always, keep reading SEPTA Watch.

 (image credit.)

Zoo building new parking garage. Is a new rail stop far behind?

Philadelphia Zoo ca. 1920
Until my daughter was born three years ago, I had managed to live in Philadelphia for nearly a decade without ever going to the Zoo.

In the past year, I’ve become a member and visited practically every other month.

It’s a pain to get there on SEPTA from where I live, so normally I ride my bike.

So I wasn’t all that excited to hear last week that the Zoo plans on spending $24 million to build a parking garage off of Girard Ave, just west of the zoo.  But I was excited to hear that they still intend to push for a stop on the Regional Rail.  Now that would be exciting!

Judging from the comments on this forum, it might just have some interest.  I sure would use that stop.  And if rider/writer Jeff’s email to us here at SEPTAwatch.com is correct, a rail stop behind the zoo might have added benefits as well:

My reason for pushing for a Zoo stop on Amtrak’s N E Corridor Line is so N. J. Transit’s Atlantic City Rail Line trains could also stop there. Having the ability to take N. J. Transit rail passengers directly to the Philadelphia Zoo will enhance ridership on the Atlantic City line. That, coupled with a stop at North Philadelphia Station, use of the new dual mode locomotives and the terminus being at a centrally located Suburban Station will greatly improve the viability of the Atlantic City Rail Line.

(image credit)

How to administer a SEPTA sacramental

A reader writes last Wednesday:

This morning, 2/22/12, I arrived at Market East at 7:45 a.m. and when I went up the stairs I saw a large group of about 10 people standing directly in my path on the way to the escalator. There were several priests in full religious clothes, plus several support types holding things, and they had a large sign that said “Ashes on the Go.” They were in the process of putting ashes on the foreheads of people and were saying prayers (I could hear this myself.) One woman receiving ashes was a Philadelphia policewoman in full uniform.

I don’t believe that any group should be holding religious services in a public SEPTA station – they were in the main area where the waiting benches are. Furthermore, it is very pushy to be having a religious service right where people are trying to walk in public space.  I don’t think this should be allowed at all, and may be it isn’t allowed at all. I called SEPTA and they said they’d look into it and get back to me this afternoon.

What is going on at SEPTA that they allow this type of activity?  I don’t want to be hassled and pushed by any religious group in my train station on my way to work!

I asked SEPTA spokesperson, Jerria Williams, what she thought of this.  Here’s her reply:

The group involved with Ashes on the Go did not contact SEPTA for permission to be at Market East. We learned that they were there from SEPTA Passenger Service personnel assigned to the station.

In that many of our customers were agreeable to receiving Ashes on the Go and the group was not blocking passageways or causing a disturbance, they were allowed to remain. However, they were told  if they wanted to be on SEPTA property in the future they must contact us in advance. At that time, SEPTA management would decide whether or not to grant permission.

Look, I don’t care if religious folks practice their religion in public places like SEPTA stations–even if I have to step around them.  What I do mind is when religious folks try to impose their religion on others.  But more to the point:  when I was a kid, we actually had to go to mass to get ashes.  What happened to that part of the catechism?

(image credit.)

Did I just hear a circus?

Coming home on the El tonight, I think I heard an advertisement over the loudspeakers for the Circus.

I’m all for exploring new revenue sources, but advertisements on the public address system is a bit harder to ignore than, say, wrap-around advertisements on buses.


City Councilman wants SEPTA to buy the BSL and EL

This short video explains Councilman Goode’s idea that SEPTA should buy the Broad St Subway and 1/2 of the EL trains.  The original lease for the two lines goes back to 1968 and may or may not have expired in 2005.  SEPTA says it doesn’t have the money to buy the subways. 

A vote is expected next week on Goode’s proposal that would authorize City Council to open hearings to examine the relationship between the City and SEPTA to see if more money can be generated for the city.

One example of how SEPTA is making money off City-owned infrastructure is AT&T Station (formerly known as Pattison Station), which SEPTA sold naming rights in 2010 to AT&T for $5 million.

I’m sure we will hear more about this in the coming weeks, months – or years. 

(Image credit: www.philly.com)

SEPTA received $191 million in Stimulus Act funds for 32 projects but now, funding is in jeopardy

Vice President Joe Biden had an op-ed in the Inquirer last week touting the third anniversary of the Stimulus Act.  As an example of the success of the Stimulus Act, he cites

You see it right here in Philadelphia, where the Recovery Act is helping SEPTA rebuild the Girard and Spring Garden stations. That project has put more than 100 people back to work.

He could have also cited a lot more.

According to SEPTA, “SEPTA received $190.9 million [in Stimulus Act funds] to complete 32 capital development projects.”  These include:


Darby Transportation Center Renovation & Expansion
Hybrid Bus Procurement

Market-Frankford Line

Restroom Renovations at 69th Street Terminal

Broad Street Line

Fern Rock Yard Track Renewal
Girard Station Rehabilitation
Spring Garden Station Rehabilitation

Norristown High Speed Line

Restroom Renovations at 69th Street Terminal
Fiber Optic Cable Installation
Bridge 12.81 Scour Repairs

Trolley Lines

Continuous Welded Rail Installation & Brush Cutting
Catenary Structure Painting
Highway Grade Crossing Improvements
Fiber Optic Cable Installation
Route 101 Traction Power Sectionalization
Route 101 Warning Signal Replacement
Restroom Renovations at 69th Street Terminal
Communications Based Train Control Upgrades

Airport Line

Right Of Way Fencing

Chestnut Hill East Line

Station Amenity, Painting & Site Improvements
Germantown & Wister Station Improvements

Chestnut Hill West Line

Station Amenity, Painting & Site Improvements
Tulpehocken Station Building Improvements

Unfortunately, funding for continued public transit funding is now at risk.  The current version of the transit bill pending in the U.S. House of Representatives would mark a big step backward in transit funding.  The NY Times ran an editorial last week decrying the bill as “uniquely terrible” and listed several reasons why it should not pass.  The editorial is worth a read.

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Bus shelter moved from 32nd & Chestnut

Drexel is buidling a new $97 million dollar project on Chestnut St between 32nd and 33rd Streets that will include over 350,000 ft² of retail spaces and dorms.  Groundbreaking is set for Feb 21. 

Because of the construction, the SEPTA bus stop at 32nd and Chestnut Streets has been moved closer to 31st Street on Chestnut. SEPTA will post signs indicating the stop’s new location.  Is the bus shelter going to be temporarily or permanently removed from this location?

(image credit: www.google.com, www.drexel.edu )