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Faye Moore must go
For the past 5 years, SEPTA General Manager Faye L.M. Moore (aka "Fearless Leader") has done something that I thought was impossible when I first started getting involved in transit advocacy. She has made me indifferent towards a regional transit system that is regressing while other transit systems are not only modernizing fare collection, but becoming more responsive to it's regional demographics. How, one wonders, is this possible?
"Fearless Leader" has managed to be more elusive than Waldo of "Where's Waldo" fame.
Anytime there's a major accident on the SEPTA system (such as last year's derailment on the R2 Warminster line in Abington Township), "Fearless Leader" is nowhere to be found...
Anytime a community in Philadelphia is up in arms over a project that makes a lot of sense but is seemingly mismanaged by SEPTA (see: Transit First Signal Priority projects in West Philly; track improvements on Chester Avenue; and on and on and on), "Fearless Leader" and the Rotating Resumes at 1234 Market simply thumb their collective noses at those who have legitimate gripes...
And don't try complaining about new fare policies. "Fearless Leader" doesn't want to hear it. Instead of taking action, she starts playing the blame game that has so infected Philadelphia City politics for so many years, it's a miracle that anything worthwhile gets done around here...
So why have I stopped caring about SEPTA? It's not so much "Fearless Leader" and her inability to take a true leadership role and be the face of SEPTA that a good General Manager is supposed to be. It isn't so much that SEPTA's "Minister of Misinformation" Richard Maloney has slightly less credibility than your typical State Legislator. It's the people who enable them - namely the Board of Directors, led by a political hack from Bucks County by the name of Pasquale T. Deon, Sr...
Since he became Chairman of the SEPTA Board, Deon has proven to the riding public and most politicans outside of the 215/267 and 610/484 area codes to be completely oblivious to the day-to-day issues that most transit riders deal with. To wit:
When SEPTA was designing it's new Regional Rail cars (another project that was embroiled in controversy), Deon's attitude towards passenger amenities was such that he told the Inquirer that he didn't care if RRD riders sat on metal benches. Not too surprising from a hack who serves on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission...
Metaphorically speaking, Deon all but threw former SEPTA GM Jack Leary "under the bus" not too long after Leary retired by making backhanded remarks about how Leary "wasn't his guy" (or words to that effect). For all of Leary's faults (irritating the labor unions, the Shariff Hall escalator controversy), the one thing that existed in Leary's administration was accountability.
Deon, Moore, and the rest of the hacks at 1234 Market can't say the same.
Yet, here was stand with an agency that, since 2000, has discussed modernizing it's fare collection system, and yet we're still stuck with the existing system that was, once upon a time (when Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Comcast) was pretending to save Philadelphia as mayor) considered "state of the art."
Now, all of the sudden, SEPTA refuses to even consider anything resembling a compromise and, in fact, is trying a backhanded (but, unfortunately, techincally legal) tactic to punish riders who have the audacity to save a few dollars here and there by raising the prices of tokens and transfers. Remember that the fare increases (read: extortion) were considered under the guise of SEPTA's recent budget crisis and that SEPTA was hoping that most of these changes would fall under the radar.
Perhaps if SEPTA spent half as much time trying to modernize it's fare collection system instead of putting it's energy behind boondoggle projects that were destined to fail ($chuylkill Valley "Metro") or projects that have gone way over budget (the Market Street El reconstruction), then perhaps this latest fare fiasco would be moot.
And of course, the existing system is really user friendly. Unless you're one of those unlucky souls who regularly ride the Regional Rail from a station that doesn't have a ticket agent (which is a lot of stations both in the city and suburbs) resulting in an unfair $3.00 penalty (oops, I mean surcharge) that penalizes riders for SEPTA's lack of vision... or stuck in an suburban area where the local token sales agent won't even sell the new one-day "Convenience Pass" - much less TransPasses - assuming of course, your area even has a token sales outlet... or you're prepared to take out a second loan if and when SEPTA is given the okay from the appelate courts to eliminate transfers...
Yet, despite repeated attempts over the years to make SEPTA aware of these issues, the fact of the matter is nothing will change. So, what does one do?
Put as much pressure on the county governing boards (Commissioners of Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties; County Council in Delaware County) and on Philadelphia City Council and the mayor (though, to be fair, the City reps on the SEPTA Board are far more responsive to the needs of their constituents compared to the suburban and state-appointed reps) to send the following message:
Fire Faye Moore and bring in a new management team, or risk losing your board seats.
This is especially important for Bucks County residents, since Deon has proven to be nothing short of a tyrant who is alienating more people every day with his smug attitude (typical of people from Lower Bucks County) and his "f*** the riders" attitude. Deon has been accused by some of his fellow board members of "micromanaging" the system, to the detriment of the region (except, of course, for Bucks County).
Enough is enough, SEPTA riders. It's time to root out the problems where they truly lie - at the SEPTA Board. Fortunatly, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery County voters have the opportunity to tell their elected officials to start appointing more accountable board members through a very simple process - the ballot box.
Until such time as a major attitude adjustment hits 1234 Market Street, expect more apathy from riders the next time SEPTA begs and grovels for your support on anything...