Archive for the ‘Septa’ Category

Tolls on the Schuylkill, Cranes on Spring Garden

Yeah Government!

This week legislators in sunny Harrisburg proposed an idea to install tolls on the mighty Schuylkill Expressway. The move was largely in protest to tolls being proposed to I 80, which runs across northern PA.

“If they put tolls on the (expletive deleted) Schuylkill, I’ll (expletive deleted) move,” Big White said in disgust.

So the next time you’re sitting in traffic on the Expressway, which will likely be the next time you’re driving on it, just think, pretty soon you could be paying a toll to do so. Hmmm…tolls…Hmmm…frustration….Hmmm….Kelly Drive?

On a side note, a crane appeared during the night down on Spring Garden. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but Big’s opinion of it was firm…

“If that (expletive deleted) crane ruins my kite-flying, I’m not going to be happy,” Big said.

“The crane?” Jon said. “I haven’t seen it yet. It doesn’t warrant a quote.”

Septa Watch…my newest blog-obsession

I have a new favorite Philly blog that I’ve been meaning to post about for a couple of weeks now, but it has continued to slip my mind when I actually sit down to blog. But no more, I say. You must know and enjoy this blog as I have come to. So, may I present to you…Septa Watch!

That’s right, one enterprising soul has devoted much time and many words to document our messy, slow-moving, under-funded public transportation agency. The first post on the blog responds to the question many of you might be asking yourself, which is why would someone invest so much time in this?

I want to love you and encourage my friends to ride you, but you drive me crazy. Why does the rain cause you to give up and practically come to a grinding stop? Why must your buses stop at every. Darn. Block. The entire way into the City instead of, say, every other block? Why did you stop selling regional rail tickets from machines but still charge us $2 for buying a ticket on board? Why don’t you ever have any schedules in the schedule holders on the bus? Why do you stop the Market Frankfort El shortly after midnight? (Would another two hours kill you?) Why after every rider has complained about this–do most of the ticket booth attendants still not sell tokens or even give you change?

To read answers to some of these questions (or just more questions about why Septa continues to be so mediocre) you must check out this blog.


I often see some weird and interesting things on the bus, but the past few weeks have been fairly humdrum. Until this past Thursday, that is. I was sitting at the back of the Rt 12, quietly reading my book, when the bus stopped at 15th and Locust. A pretty blonde in sixties-style mod white ran on the bus, passing out gum to all the passengers. That’s when I noticed there was a bevy of pretty blondes in sixties-style mod white all around: on the bus, on the corner, on the street. They were handing out sample packs of new Orbit “Mint Mojito”, and as quickly as she got on the bus she was gone again, and I was left with a single piece of gum in my hand and a “What the…?” on the tip of my tongue.

I should know better than to sit on the bus when it rains

It’s raining today. I hate taking the bus when it rains. Sometimes I think it would be better to walk to 2 miles to work, in the pouring rain, than ride the bus. It is not SEPTA’s fault that more people bus it when it rains, and that those passengers are rude.

It amazes me that some people think it is a good idea to place their soaking wet umbrellas on the cloth covered seats next to them. This leads to much surprise when unsuspecting travelers then sit down.

Soggy bottoms and cranky SEPTA riders do not make for a good combination.

Any suggestions for eliminating this problem? I wonder if things like umbrella stands or slots under seats would make for fewer occurances of “walking into work with a wet butt” syndrome.

Yo! Back door!

I would imagine that most people, especially those taking public transit often, or even every day, would know by now how SEPTA buses work. Even those ignorant or taking a bus for the first time should be able to read.

There is a bold sign above the rear door that’s rather hard to miss, as it’s usually eye level to someone waiting to exit the bus. This sign reads something like “wait for lights, doors open when bus stops”. Sometimes the opening is not immediate, and the lights linger for a few seconds before the doors actually open.

However, in the morning on my way to work, at each bus stop, someone feels the need to scream “Yo! Back door!” at the driver, sometimes even before the bus has come to a complete stop. Occasionally someone will also bang on the doors, attempting to push them open, also while yelling at the driver. Why, even the other day, I had a gentleman proclaim “back door!” for me!

Ordinarily I am not a patient person, but I’ve learned the way the buses work. I can wait the four seconds between the lights going on and the rear doors opening.

And, in the event that the driver didn’t realize I requested a stop (as often happens when the bus aisle is crowded and the view of the doors are blocked), I just exit the bus at the next stop. It’s never killed me to walk that extra block!


I was excited when my workplace closed at 3:45. I thought I would take a nice early train home, have something warm and relax. The trolley was fairly painless, but 30th street was madness. I heard from people seated nearby that the prior train on our line refused passengers at 30th because it was too full. When the next arrived it only had two cars. People jammed in like I’ve never seen before. Sardines would be an understatement. I’m not much of a pusher, so I ended up with one foot on the platform and one in the train when the conductor told us we would have to get inside or wait for the next one as she was not allowed to let us stand in the back vestibule. Then, at the last second, she relented and let three of us stay.

The view is great with windows on three sides, and this turned out to be quite the advantage. We stopped just before the first station and let a few trains pass, then news came of a frozen switch. We went up to the station, on the wrong track. Then an another conductor came back and they drove the train in reverse all the way back to the bridge over the Schuylkill. Having an up front view while going backwards in a snow and ice storm was more than a little exciting, and made up for the wait.

That said, the train left 30th street around 4:30, and I just got in. It’s about 6:00 now, and I can’t feel my toes yet.

Bus schedules, what a concept!

Most people know that I am a big defender of the SEPTA system—not their management or their drivers’ lovely people skills, but definitely their routes and buses. One thing I’ll never understand is the lack of printed timetable schedules on buses.

Yesterday morning, while waiting for the bus to get to work, an older gentleman asked me if I knew when the bus would come. Coincidentally, I had a schedule on me. I took it out of my bag and gave it to him, so he would also know when to get his return bus. We got to talking about routes and schedules, and he mentioned that he often sees the schedule slots on the buses empty. I’ve noticed this as well, but also it seems that when there are schedules on the bus, they are for a completely different route, e.g. Route 56 schedules on the 12.

So what’s up with that?

Has anyone ever picked up a bus schedule for that route while actually on that bus route?

R8 Canines

If you’re an animal lover it’s best you don’t read Willa Rohrer’s column in the latest Philadelphia Weekly. In fact, you may want to stop reading this post right now. Rohrer starts by describing a horrific scene on the R8 line (which happens to be my commuter line as well), and then drops it to talk about the riders and scenery instead. This wouldn’t bother me if the initial paragraphs were not quite so heart-rending.

Free Rides!

This Sunday marks the 100 year anniversary of the El. In celebration, all rides on the Market-Frankford line will be FREE from noon to 5:00 PM. SEPTA will also host a public reception from 2-3:30 in their headquarters at 1234 Market Street. For a detailed history, and a list of who will be who at the reception, see here.

Rail Commute Complaining

I have a few rail commuter gripes to throw about. First, to the people who wait just inside the platform doors at 30th Street Station. Yes, it is cold out. Wait downstairs where it’s warm or wait outside in the cold. Standing right behind the inward-opening doors blocks the way for passengers making their way to and from their trains. Furthermore, don’t you dare give out nasty looks to those who actually open the doors and go outside. That’s how we get to the train. If you’re standing right behind it, yes, the door will bump you.

Secondly, to parents with uncontrolled small children on the train. No, it is not cute when they stand up despite repeated warnings from the conductor to sit down. It is also very much not cute when they kick or pound on the seats in front of them, nor when they turn around to take tickets and passes to play with and chew on.

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