Ask SEPTA: GM Joe Casey answers questions about new buses, gates

Every three weeks, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey addresses reader-submitted questions about the city’s public transit system.This week, Casey answers reader’s questions about new Articulated buses and frustrating gates.

Question: I use Route 27 daily and seeing as the brand new Articulated buses have finally arrived, and having the pleasure of riding on one of them once recently on the Route 48, they run beautifully. Route 27 during the weekdays at rush hour desperately needs these Articulated models. It’s deeply disturbing they are being run on routes such as 23 and 33. Folks on these and surely some other routes have recently and in the past, scratched windows, cut seats, left trash, graffitied, and otherwise defaced SEPTA buses. The authority no doubt maintains a record of which bus routes are more troublesome and tend to attract more abusive and careless riders than others. We should not be rewarding users of such bus routes with new equipment, for any reason. The 27 is not one such route and it’s one that is used primarily by office workers employed in Center City and living in Manayunk, Andorra, Roxborough, Wissahickon, and Plymouth Meeting. The 27 is in desperate need of Articulated buses during weekday rush hour, whereas it’s completely packed standing room only heading to Plymouth Meeting/Barren Hill at weekday rush hour using the smaller vehicles. People are sometimes forced to stand in front of the yellow line and this is a massive safety concern, being as there is nothing to hold onto and one can seriously injure themselves. Please fix this major issue and please stop rewarding unacceptable behavior with brand new vehicles. We would prefer they last and stay new looking as long as possible. (Dan, Manayunk)

Joe Casey: As SEPTA replaces and expands its fleet of articulated (60-foot) buses, the decision as to which routes they are assigned to is made on overall ridership. This assures the most efficient use of the fleet for the entire day. Routes 33 and 48 are those type of routes, carrying 15,000 and 8,500 passengers per weekday with heavy passenger loads throughout the day. Route 27 carries 5,000 passengers daily with passenger demand requiring frequent peak hour service, but only a 30-minute frequency needed mid-day and evenings. Therefore, the larger buses would be underutilized for many trips. However, as the Route 27 operates on the Schuylkill Expressway, traffic conditions sometimes result in service delays which can affect passenger loads and result in the crowding conditions you sometimes experience. In addition to new 60-foot buses, SEPTA is also replacing the oldest 40-foot buses.

Question: A few years ago, roughly during the Dilworth Plaza construction, a gate was placed that prevents pedestrians from walking between the eastern extent of the concourse (along Market Street from 8th and Market westward) and the north south concourse at Broad Street. I was expecting the gate to be removed in due time, but it’s still there. Staff tell me they don’t think it will be removed. That seems wrong — the concourse is meant to be a complete integrated whole. Why is it blocked off there and can it be reopened so we can fully use the concourse? As the weather turns cold and snowy, it is very nice to have a warmer, drier, underground walking option. —- Ed Gracely, Sicklerville, NJ

Joe Casey: Prior to construction, the concourse passageway you are referring to allowed people walking underground to pass under the old Dilworth Plaza. However, with the new configuration of Dilworth Park that east side passageway now leads directly inside the paid area of the east fare line at the new SEPTA transit entrances. Removing the gate would allow people free access to the Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line and trolleys. Needless to say, this passageway is permanently closed and the gate will remain locked.

However, please note that you can still walk underground between 8th & Market and the Comcast building. It can be a little confusing right now, but SEPTA recently took over maintenance of the concourse from the city and, now the Dilworth Park is complete, in the spring we’ll be making improvements to the concourse wayfinding signage.

In the meantime, whether you are traveling east or west, when you approach the area near Dilworth Park you’ll need to follow the concourse system paths that circle around the SEPTA transit entrances. On the concourse path under the north side of Market Street look for signs directing you to the Municipal Service Building (when you see the red and white Aztec-like wall tile you know you’re going the right way). When traveling the concourse path under the south side of Market Street -depending on the direction you’re walking – look for signs to Walnut-Locust Station or the Market-Frankford Line’s 15th Street Station (when you see the pale green and gray wall tile you’re heading the right way). Following these concourse pathways will still allow you to remain underground during inclement weather and you won’t have to step one foot outside into the cold, rain or snow between 8th & Market and 17th & JFK.

What would you Ask SEPTA? Email your questions to Metro Reporter Tommy Rowanat