Saturday, June 28, 2008

Breaking: Septa Is, For Once, Actually Taking Proactive Measures To Improve The Experience of Its Riders

No, for real — it’s true:
To help ease overcrowding on Regional Rail lines, SEPTA plans to lease eight used railcars from NJ Transit.

The cars, to augment SEPTA's existing fleet of 348 cars until new Silverliner V cars begin arriving in 2009, are to be put into service next month if the $10,000-a-month lease is approved by the SEPTA board today.

As gasoline prices rise, SEPTA rail ridership is up 14 percent this year, and many rush-hour trains are packed with standing passengers, straining the system's capacity.
And the last thing Septa wants to do is annoy, disappoint or turn off these new riders. This is a veritable tipping point for Septa — a golden opportunity to show off how convenient for commuters transit can really be.
The leased cars, which are being retired by NJ Transit as new double-decker cars come on line, must be used with SEPTA locomotives because they are not self-propelled like most of SEPTA's fleet.

The NJ Transit cars will allow SEPTA to increase the length - and the capacity - of its seven locomotive-pulled trains, assistant general manager for operations Patrick Nowakowski said.
Don’t tell us those snotty assfaces from the Main Line are the only ones that will benefit from this. (The seven Septa locomotive trains only service the Main Line rail line, the R5 Paoli/Malvern/Thorndale.)
SEPTA will also "make some schedule adjustments to make these seven trains carry more people, and thus give us some flexibility to move the other equipment around to create more system-wide capacity," Nowakowski said.
Ok, good. We’re kinda impressed. That almost sounds smart even.

See, Septa needs to truly understand that it is at a very critical point. With gas prices forcing all these new riders onto transit it can either impress the new riders and make a huge breakthrough for regional transit (by being generally on time, clean, convenient and comfortable, e.g. having seats for all riders) OR it can blow it completely by turning them off and generally failing to demonstrate the awesome benefits/potential of transit.

We sincerely hope Septa’s new general manger, Joseph M. Casey, is working hard to instill a new sense of optimism and real purpose in the agency and its staff — a can-do attitude, an overall sense of pride and a sense of vital importance in what they’re doing — that motivates them to genuinely care about making Septa great and maximizing its positive impact on the region and the region's environment.

Because every day that gas prices force more people onto transit, that day is the new most important day of Septa’s existence. And the same is the case for each successive day. And Septa should be treating each and every day as such.

This is a Super Bowl-esque opportunity for Septa. The whole agency should be all hands on deck, trying to take as much advantage of the circumstances as possible.

And this sense of urgency and great opportunity needs to come from the very top. Joseph Casey, get to it.

Related:
SEPTA looking to lease railcars from NJ Transit [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
The Missing Links - Public transit ridership is up, but no one's talking about a better system [ Grist ]
Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit [ New York Times ]

1 comment:

nat said...

In addition to serving the Main Line, the coaches pulled by electric locomotive also serve Wilmington and Trenton as well, I believe.