Public Transit

SEPTA, PATCO, and the chance for a new rail line

The Daily News notes some good news for SEPTA- and really, for all of us- today:

When SEPTA hiked fares 12 percent last summer, transit-agency officials said they expected ridership to decline, as it had after prior fare increases.

But when gasoline prices jumped sky-high and stayed there, SEPTA ridership escalated by 30,000 daily trips (4 percent) from July 1 to Jan. 1 over the same period in 2006.

Regional Rail ridership rose 12 percent, or 13,000 daily trips, while city transit (trains and buses) increased by 17,000 daily trips or 2.6 percent.

The ridership renaissance continued last month, up 51,000 daily trips or 6 percent over the previous January - up 32,000 daily trips on city transit; up 19,000 daily trips on Regional Rail.

SEPTA, while not totally funded, does now have reliable funding from the State. And, they have a general manager who rides the train every day. And, they are getting hybrid buses.

So, while the iron is hot...

I have been following with interest that PATCO is trying to get masive federal funding to build a line in New Jersey (likely along 42 from Philly to Glassboro/Pitman). Because they can't ignore our side of the river, PATCO is also talking about building a line along the Delaware. That sounds like a reasonable idea- who wouldn't like a new transit line? However, new rail lines come along at best, once in a generation, and cost in the billions to build. So, it seems crazy that our one and only chance might be as a sort of throw away plan because PATCO really wants to build a New Jersey line.

We have talked many times about new lines within Philly. I think it is time that SEPTA get on the ball, and really start exploring this in detail, with public input and comment. If we only get one chance at a new line, we mine as well make it one that we really want, not one that makes sense for PATCO.

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