Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

What’s up with Flexcar?

A couple months ago, I was walking down Walnut Street when a huge bunch of balloons floated in front of me from one of the parking garages. As I got closer I noticed the shiny fleet of new silver hybrid cars, and I was immediately approached by people handing out flyers and coupons for Flexcar. Now, at the time I was on my way to the PhillyCarShare pod at 13th and Locust to pick up my car for the day, and was completely not interested in anything to do with Flexcar.

Since then, I’ve been bombarded with Flexcar: billboards for Flexcar, posters on the sides of SEPTA buses, cars parked at their designated pods. However, while I often catch people driving their PhillyCarShares, I have yet to actually see a Flexcar on the road.

So, what’s the deal with Flexcar?
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Repaving the Sure-kill

PennDOT is repaving the portion of 76 between City Line and Walnut St. On a normal non-construction day this stretch often resembles more of a Schuylkill parking lot more than a Schuylkill expressway. Fortunately, they’re only closing lanes between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays (8 a.m. on Saturdays) so it shouldn’t affect rush hour. Even so, I would definitely suggest seeking out back road alternatives at night as I’m sure the traffic will pile up very quickly with the closures.

Near-accident makes me into a chicken.

This morning I witnessed a very scary near-accident. A dark red ford was going north on 33rd and tried to turn left onto Chestnut. Yes, left, as in head on into two lanes of oncoming one way traffic. Fortunately that traffic was stopped at the light. Several horns sounded as the ford turned and nearly clipped a stopped car. Realizing their mistake, they threw it in reverse and tried to back into the intersection just as a SEPTA LUCY bus was roaring through northbound on 33rd. The pedestrians on the corner around me let out a choruses of “Oh my god” and gasps. I’m ashamed to say I covered my eyes with my hand like a big scaredy cat and hunched up my shoulders, bracing for the *scrapecrunchshatted* of metal and glass. Nothing.
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Public Routes: Philadelphia

I totally forget how I came across this website, but I must say that even if it is a bit flawed, Public Routes is still pretty cool. There are a few metro areas from which to choose, Philadelphia being one of them. You can get directions in a variety of ways: driving, walking, taking public transit, or a combination. The walking directions are nifty, but so far some of the bus routes have taken me way far off course. As always, it’s recommended to check traffic conditions and SEPTA advisories before heading out.

Pride Street?

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Often a street has an alternate name or designation—there are several street signs around the city that have smaller, more descriptive street signs below them; e.g. 4th Street below South Street is also known as “Fabric Row”.

This morning I noticed a new sign attached to 13th Street, at Walnut: the smaller sign didn’t have another street name, but a rainbow! (It kinda looks like the image to the right.)

I was on the bus when I saw this, so I’m not sure if there are other signs like this one around the “gayborhood”. Has anyone else seen these?

A Cycling City

The Inquirer recently had an article about how, this summer, Paris is going to institute a large-scale bike rental program, to encourage people to drive less, ride more, and decrease noise, pollution and congestion in the city. The idea was already tried in Lyon with great success. I was thinking, what a great idea if that would happen in Philly! If only for the downtown area. Those of us who live downtown never use our cars anyway, until we’re heading out of the city.

Beach Race Track

This conversation happened on Wednesday…

My phone rang. It was my sister Erin.

Me: Hey.
Erin: What’s happening?
Me: Nothing, dude. Driving to class. Yo, driving on Kelly Drive is tough.
Erin: It’s fast.
Me: I know. That’s what I like about it. You have really be on your toes. But dude, it’s hard when it’s nice out.
Erin: Why? Because of all the people?
Me: Yeah. I want to look at all of them, but I have to concentrate on driving. Tough choice to make.
Erin: Kelly Drive is like a race track.
Me: I know. A race track. But when it’s nice like this, it’s like driving on a race track which is on a beach. A beach-race track.

But that happened Wednesday. Back when it felt like spring was coming. Now I’m huddled up in my apartment watching hours and hours of basketball wondering if summer will ever come.

Final Four Prediction: Oregon, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Memphis
Championship: Georgetown over Oregon.
My roommate Nailz’ cat Izzy’s picks: Miami (Ohio,) Kansas, Belmont, UPenn
Championship: Kansas over UPenn.

New Year, New Job

Yes! It’s finally happened! After working out in the far-off lands of Bucks County for over two years, my dream to once again work in the city has been realized.

Living in the city and working in the suburbs can be very hectic indeed, especially when one must drive to work (see also my SEPTA Biking posts, part 1 and part 2) and no other options at the time seem feasible. Now it will be a matter of: walk or bus?

This also leads to more checkmarks in the “pro” column of my de-car dilemma spreadsheet, so the adventures of getting rid of my car will once again continue!

Credit Card Machines in Cabs

Sunday night, I got into a cab for the first time in a couple of months. I used to be a regular cab user, but then I acquired a car and started going to grad school in the suburbs and stopped needed to take cabs as often as I once did. But Sunday was New Year’s Eve, and it would have been stupid to take a car out, so after dinner several of us hopped into a taxi to get down to a party in Bella Vista. And attached to the plastic guard that separates the front seat from the back was a credit/debit card machine.

It was the first time I had seen one in a cab in Philly, and I thought it was pretty nifty (although we paid for that ride in cash). This morning, there was a brief segment on WHYY (the link doesn’t seem to be up yet) about how the Philadelphia Parking Authority is putting these machines in about a 1,000 cabs throughout the city. I think it’s great, because fewer and fewer people are carrying cash these days. I can see cab drivers getting short-changed though, as credit card fees and smaller tips take a bit out of their take.

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