City Council is more concerned with cars than public transit

Dan Smith

It's no secret that Philadelphia's public transportation system has plummeted during the pandemic.

The recovery in passenger numbers on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines has been slow, and buses in the city are often overcrowded and chaotic, and face further obstacles, but ongoing efforts are underway. The lack of operators has taken a devastating blow.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (responsible for most of the city's public transit system) is requesting assistance from the city government as federal COVID-19 relief funds help keep the city's transit system at a low standard. Assistance is available.

Instead, public hearings scheduled for January on SEPTA's proposed bus network changes could lead to blatant counterproductive intervention from city councils that rarely prioritize quality public transport. There is a nature.

Philadelphia and the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors who use our services every day deserve to do better.

» Read more: Why buses are late and how SEPTA is trying to fix it

At stake is Bus Revolution, SEPTA's plan to improve services and reverse the decline in bus ridership. For the first time in 70 years, planners have recreated bus routes from scratch to improve speed and frequency. Passengers have long cited unreliable service and slow speeds as their top concerns. Improving frequency and reliability is a proven way to regain passenger numbers. Some North Jersey bus routes saw a 78% increase after addressing reliability issues.

SEPTA's efforts have been met with criticism. Some riders and operators are concerned about losing their routes, and residents of Roxborough and Manayunk said they had to transfer at either the Wissahickon Transit Center or his 30th Street Station to complete many journeys. I am particularly offended by the suggestion that it will be necessary. In response to these complaints, city councilors claim that Bus Revolution is a cover for service cuts.

Luckily, that doesn't seem to be the case. An analysis prepared for the advocacy group Transit Forward Philadelphia found that most city neighborhoods are served by buses. frequency and coverage instead of losing it.

SEPTA was forced to cancel routes in areas with low ridership and increase frequency elsewhere because it was not given funding to increase its services as part of the bus revolution, but those cancellations occurs predominantly in suburban areas. Most urban neighborhoods, including most of Roxborough, would benefit from resource redistribution.

Transportation authorities are actively seeking feedback on draft networks. SEPTA planners acknowledge that some of the suggested routes may need to be changed. Making revisions based on feedback from residents is an important part of the process, but it would be wrong to tell the agency to start over, the suggestion of Congressional Majority Leader Curtis Jones. Postponing this redesign is a decision that could lead to actual service reductions in the future.

The council seems to have a keen ability to get to the end of the process to ensure their plans fail. Involvement in Bass Revolution could be yet another example. By his own admission, council members say he rarely boards SEPTA and rarely discusses the system's trials and tribulations in public hearings.

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Unlike city motorists, whose issues are often addressed by city councilors, Nearly 500,000 weekday bus passengers, 70,000 trolley passengers, 180,000 Market-Frankford Line passengers, and 120,000 Broad Street Line passengers are driven by city-owned SUVs and, in many cases, drivers It receives little attention from its perks, including

City councilors have been known to extensively rezoning entire commercial corridors for parking complaints, but are usually silent when it comes to the city's transit system's well-known problems. If a car blocks dozens of Philadelphia If the bus or trolley fails to get to work on time, the council may step in to help scofflaw avoid tickets rather than helping transport passengers get where they need to be. becomes more viable.

Given this background, a belated Board hearing is unlikely to yield any useful results. A better approach would be to engage with Bus Revolution from the beginning, learn the good reasons why redesigns are taking place, and work with SEPTA to develop dedicated bus lanes, prioritization of buses, and the success of operators and passengers. I was working on a solution such as other changes that would help. Navigate the city.

Sadly, according to SEPTA planners, these issues were considered too political. That's the code for "council members don't support it".

Until the City Council begins to treat the city's public transportation issues with the same urgency and consistency as parking issues and honor resolutions, city passengers are unlikely to get the help they need.