Amid Ridership Surge, SEPTA Trains Are Packed

English: personal photo

English: personal photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA is shuffling equipment and workers to try to deal with chronic crowding problems on Regional Rail trains, as ridership rises and old cars and locomotives break down more frequently.

Even the 120 new Silverliner V cars that have arrived since 2010 to replace 73 old cars have not solved the overcrowding issue.

About 15 percent of SEPTA’s rail cars are out of service on any given day, while passenger counts are up 4 percent from last year and 50 percent from 15 years ago.

“The trains are so full that it’s even hard to find room to stand,” said Katrina Claghorn, a dietitian who commutes daily from Wayne to 30th Street Station. “It started getting bad over the summer, and now the trains are packed when they pull into 30th Street Station on the Paoli line.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20141009_Amid_ridership_surge__SEPTA_shuffles_workers__trains_to_ease_crowding.html#WCQjedUsbj5PMw5Y.99

High Hopes For $38 Million Project In Pleasantville

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – This down-on-its-luck stepsister town to neighboring Atlantic City has struggled economically for decades, languishing without a redevelopment plan or the ability to attract private investment.

But a $38 million project that includes two apartment buildings and retail space on a vacant Main Street block is expected to set the cornerstone for economic growth and expanded development in the Atlantic County city, according to Jacqueline Amado-Belton, economic development director for the City of Pleasantville.

“We feel like we have borne the brunt of a lot of issues that have spilled over from Atlantic City over the years,” Amado-Belton said. “In terms of perception and other factors, it’s been a struggle and a challenge to get to this point.”

The Pleasantville City Center, expected to be completed by next summer, will add 135 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and will be bordered by Main Street, Washington Avenue, Milan Avenue, and South Second Street.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20141006_High_hopes_for__38_million_project_in_Pleasantville.html#ZlSiLKCqFZQAdj9H.99

Changes Coming To Lancaster And Berks Transit, But A Combined New Authority Won’t Look Different To Bus Riders

Picture 565Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority board took its first formal step toward a merger with Berks County’s BARTA system on Wednesday.

But the combined South Central Transit Authority will be indistinguishable from the present RRTA and BARTA.

“We’ll form a new authority and nobody will know the difference,” RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer said.

The single authority will operate RRTA and BARTA buses in their respective counties. The names on the buses will not change, nor will their colors.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/changes-coming-to-lancaster-and-berks-transit-but-a-combined/article_090e5798-3ec5-11e4-a7b4-001a4bcf6878.html

MCCC Earns GVF Platinum Sustainability Award For Transportation Initiatives

MCCC

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell (far right) and Action News Anchor Matt O’Donnell (far left) present (from left) Peggy Lee-Clark, MCCC executive director of government relations, and Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for information technology and college services, with a platinum level sustainability award.

King of Prussia, Pa.— For the fourth consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) earned a platinum-level sustainability award from the Greater Valley Forge Management Association (GVF) on Sept. 8 during the organization’s annual Sustainability Breakfast. MCCC was one of 32 organizations recognized for sustainability efforts in 2014.

MCCC partners with GVF to operate a campus shuttle service between its Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses and, for the first time this fall, between its Blue Bell campus and Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Last year, more than 10,400 riders took advantage of the free, 20-passenger shuttle, which is equipped with wi-fi to support student success.

On Earth Day 2014, MCCC and GVF introduced a new vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), which, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, will further reduce emissions by 11 tons of carbon dioxide over the next year based on the 28,560 miles driven and 3,483 gallons of diesel fuel used in 2013. Prior to the introduction of the CNG vehicle, MCCC’s shuttle program helped to eliminate approximately 54,527 metric tons of carbon emissions and reduce vehicle usage by 522,144 miles annually.

In addition to the shuttle program, MCCC also employs Zimride, an industry leading rideshare service that provides a safe and easy way for students and staff to arrange carpooling through college community network that fully integrates with Facebook. Since launching Zimride in 2011, MCCC’s network has logged 1,461,492 carpool miles.

At the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, drivers of electric, hybrid, and conventional vehicles that average 25 MPG or greater, as well as carpoolers and shuttle riders, have the opportunity to park in a designated, convenient 185-space parking lot adjacent to the Advanced Technology Center. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in the Green Lot, as well as in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown.

Other transportation initiatives include a Segway program for public safety officers in Pottstown, electric and hybrid vehicles for public safety and facilities staff in Blue Bell, and an increased effort to promote bicycle accessibility at all MCCC locations.

Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Montgomery County Community College has put into place policies and procedures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a result of its efforts, MCCC is a two-time recipient of Second Nature’s national Climate Leadership Award.  To learn more about MCCC’s sustainability initiative, visit http://www.mc3green.wordpress.com.

Mon Valley Transit Merger Decision Might Come Next Month

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The future of transit services in the Mon Valley and throughout Washington County likely will be decided in the next month.

The Middle Monongahela Transit Authority provides services for 21 Valley municipalities. It has been studying a possible merger with Washington County Transportation – also known as Washington County Rides – and the City of Washington Transit Authority.

The MMVTA board will discuss a possible merger in a closed-door meeting this week.

By the end of September, each transit agency is expected to vote on consolidation. The MMVTA board could vote either at its Aug. 28 or Sept. 25 public meetings.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmonvalley/yourmonvalleymore/6623980-74/transit-board-valley#ixzz3AlflikFi
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Website Ranks Centre Area Transportation Authority 8th In Nation For Per Capita Usage

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— Steven Maria caught a few rays of Wednesday afternoon sunshine while waiting for his ride.

Maria, a 19-year-old Penn State student, sat on a bench along Beaver Avenue in front of the Centre Area Transportation Authority office — the nerve center for one of the nation’s busiest transit systems.

“I use the bus all the time to get home,” he said.

He’s one of the thousands of riders each day who prove that just because State College is a small town, it doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own with a major metropolis.

Testimony: Luzerne County Transit Authority Employees Worked In Fear

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ROYALTON, PA — Employees at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority worked in constant fear of losing their jobs unless they fraudulently inflated ridership numbers, and the former chairman of the board knew about it years ago, according to testimony heard Monday.

Prosecutors began laying out their case against Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, and Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, who were charged last month with conspiring to inflate senior citizen ridership numbers in the “ghost rider” scandal.

Both men, who are free on unsecured bond and remain suspended without pay, declined to comment following an all-day preliminary hearing held Monday before Magisterial District Judge David Judy. The hearing, which continues today, represents the first public testimony in the case.

Robert Turinski, former LCTA board chairman, testified that he suspected Strelish was inflating senior ridership numbers as far back as 2007.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/testimony-lcta-employees-worked-in-fear-1.1719124

LCTA Officials Placed On Leave After Charges

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two key Luzerne County Transportation Authority figures charged Wednesday in the “ghost rider” scandal have been placed on administrative leave pending an emergency board meeting next week, according to a memo leaked to the media.

Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, is facing charges including theft by deception, tampering with public records, unsworn falsification, false swearing and obstructing justice. Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, is charged with conspiring to tamper with public records, aiding the commission of a crime and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors say the men’s orders led drivers to count hundreds of thousands of riders who didn’t exist, resulting in millions of dollars in overfunding from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

According to a memo to the board from authority solicitor Joseph M. Blazosek, Strelish and Henderson were placed on administrative leave during a personnel committee meeting Wednesday pending board action at an emergency meeting set for 5 p.m. Tuesday. The memo does not disclose whether the leave is paid or unpaid, and Blazosek did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/lcta-officials-placed-on-leave-after-charges-1.1698699

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SEPTA Aims For Happier Riders, Unveils 5-Year Plan

SEPTA logo

SEPTA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With increased state funding and stable ridership, SEPTA officials are unveiling a five-year plan to attract more riders, repair crumbling infrastructure, and improve customer satisfaction.

Having emerged from last year’s doomsday scenarios into a hopeful era of what SEPTA planners call “innovation, integration and renewal,” the officials on Tuesday outlined a blueprint for the future that will be presented to the agency’s board for approval in July.

Meeting with transit users and supporters at SEPTA’s Center City headquarters, Byron Comati, director of strategic planning, said legislative approval late last year of a $2.3 billion boost in statewide transportation funding allows SEPTA to plan more boldly.

By 2018, the additional state funding will mean a boost of about $400 million annually for SEPTA to repair bridges, buy new vehicles and upgrade stations and equipment.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140521_SEPTA_aims_for_happier_riders__unveils_5-year_plan.html#erJVxPXXeAuIyUU6.99

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Lehigh University South Side Initiative Looking To Get Campus Bus Into City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lehigh University runs buses to the Lehigh Valley Mall and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

But not into South Side Bethlehem.

Some at Lehigh are looking to change that. It’s an idea that came out of an open community meeting held last month by Lehigh’s South Side Initiative.

“So many here at Lehigh depend on the bus or the bus system that wraps through the upper and lower campus,” said John Pettegrew, the initiative’s director. “It would just be a practical addition to include a route that goes into Third Street and possibly SteelStacks or any other destinations.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/04/lehigh_university_south_side_i.html

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Cuts In Suburban Pittsburgh Bus Routes Changed Lives

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple years ago, when Gloria Jefferson of McKeesport wanted to go somewhere, she walked to a bus stop near her house.

Then, in 2011, her commute became much less convenient. During a round of cuts to fix a budget deficit, the Port Authority canceled her route, which ran through the middle of McKeesport. Now, Ms. Jefferson, who is 80, has to walk a mile downhill to another stop.

The walk is tough for her, especially when she’s carrying grocery bags. Sometimes, she pays for a ride there or avoids going places. She wonders whether she’ll still be able to make the walk when she gets older.

“Right now, I feel good. How long it’s going to last, I don’t know,” she said. “I keep on praying that one day they’ll turn it around and bring the bus back up the hill.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/04/06/Cuts-in-suburban-bus-routes-changed-lives/stories/201404060065#ixzz2y9vjCoPz

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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Last Year’s Gridlock Looms Large Over Pirates’ Opener

PNC Park

PNC Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fans arriving for Opening Day on Monday will be getting an earlier start to tailgating around PNC Park, and so will police hoping to avoid last year’s gridlock — but not by much.

Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said officers assigned to ease congestion and operate signals at the busiest intersections will start arriving at their posts at 10:30 a.m., at least 45 minutes earlier than last year.

But this year’s first pitch is about a half-hour earlier, about 1 p.m. Parking lots and garages open to tailgaters at 9 a.m., and the ballpark gates open at 11. Officials urge fans to have patience, use mass transit or park farther away from the ball field.

“If people can curtail their excitement with a little bit of patience, we’ll be able to help them get where they need to go,” Toler said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5830137-74/parking-pirates-fans#ixzz2xYokJ1U5
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Mass Transit Ridership In 2013 Highest In 57 Years

Ridership on buses, trains and subways in 2013 was the highest in 57 years, the American Public Transportation Association said Monday.

The growth in transit ridership continued a 20-year trend attributed to higher gasoline prices, a shift by young adults away from automobiles, increased use of mobile technology, and the increasing allure of urban areas.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy.

In 2013, riders made 10.7 billion trips on U.S. public transit systems, up 1.1 percent from 2012. That was the most since 1956.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140311_Mass_transit_ridership_in_2013_highest_in_57_years.html#4DxdR5HbEf6VkPFv.99

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Double-Decker Train Cars For SEPTA?

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things are looking up for regional rail.

In an attempt to increase passenger capacity, SEPTA is in the early stages of considering bi-level coaches. With an upstairs and a downstairs, these coaches could transport anywhere from 120 to 170 passengers. Most important to SEPTA, they would provide an efficient remedy to booming regional rail ridership. Silverliner Vs can seat 109 passengers.

Last year alone, SEPTA passengers took 36 million regional rail trips – a record high on the system that has seen 50 percent regional rail ridership growth in the last 15 years. Now, aided by Act 89 funding, SEPTA is looking to increase its capacity and better serve those customers. One way the authority plans to do so is to build up.

“The real elegant solution to dealing with capacity issues, the most efficient one is to utilize the infrastructure you have but go up in the air with the cars so you can increase seating,” said Jeff Knueppel, deputy general manager.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Double-decker_train_cars_for_SEPTA_.html#KFDcsf7hhy75jl8B.99

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Barletta Eyes Train Between Scranton, Hazleton

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou ...

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou Barletta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pardon me, Lou. Is that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton choo-choo?

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, fresh off his announcement that he will seek a third term in Congress, Friday told The Times Leader Opinion Board he feels establishing passenger-rail service connecting the region’s three largest cities is a key to economic recovery and growth.

“The interstate roads are always crowded and often under repair,” said Barletta, 57. “Rail service — both freight and passenger — contributes to economic growth. Transportation in general, from waterways to highways to railways, are vital to the country and our region.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1148657/Barletta-eyes-train-between-Scranton-Hazleton

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King Of Prussia Rail Project Public Meeting / Open House – January 30th!

SEPTA logo

SEPTA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA has scheduled a Public Meeting/Open House for the King of Prussia Rail Project. The King of Prussia Rail Project will evaluate various alternative alignments to make the connection to the NHSL and destinations in King of Prussia.

Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Time: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Open House) | 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (Presentations)
Location: Radisson Hotel at Valley Forge – South Ballroom 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA 19406

Meeting attendees should use the hotel entrance to reach the South Ballroom.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) welcomes your interest and participation in the King of Prussia Rail Project. Early in fall 2012, SEPTA initiated this study to evaluate an extension of the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) to the King of Prussia area. The NHSL currently provides service between the 69th Street Transportation Center and Norristown Transportation Center, serving the Main Line area in Delaware and Montgomery Counties, and connecting to Center City Philadelphia. While the transit system is expansive, a rail connection to the King of Prussia area is missing.

The project will evaluate various alignments to provide increased transit service to the King of Prussia area. The project need stems from deficiencies in area transit services that result in long travel times, delays due to roadway congestion, and transfers between services. In addition, there are many destinations in the King of Prussia/Valley Forge area that are underserved or currently not served by public transit.

SEPTA invites you to participate in the project development process and provide input.

Website: http://www.kingofprussiarail.com/

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Sidewalks Necessary To Grow Transit, Improve Walkability In Lehigh Valley, Study Says

wm-license-information-description-missing wm-...

wm-license-information-description-missing wm-license-information-description-missing-request LANTA logo.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Installing sidewalks and crosswalks along Hamilton Boulevard near Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in South Whitehall Township would encourage more people to use transit in the area.

It would also make the area, which was the site of a fatal pedestrian crash in 2012, safer and more attractive to walkers, according to a Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority study.

The area is one of five highlighted in the study, which outlines how land development in the Lehigh Valley can help promote transit use in the region.

The authority wants to grow ridership, and most municipal officials are committed to improving walkability in their communities, so LANTA has been spreading the message about how best to accomplish both goals, planning director Owen O’Neil said.

Read more:  http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/01/lanta_study_sidewalks_necessar.html

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York Public Transportation To Improve With Bill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The aging fleet of public transportation buses in York County will get a boost from the recently passed state transportation bill, as could Rabbit Transit‘s plans for a fleet conversion from diesel to natural gas.

Rabbit Transit CEO Richard Farr said the $2.3 billion package “couldn’t be passed a moment too soon,” as about 64 percent of the organization’s 87-vehicle fleet is beyond its useful life or will be in 2014.

That means they’ve surpassed 12 years of age or 600,000 miles, “and we have vehicles with mileage as high as 900,000 miles,” he said.

The old buses are more expensive to maintain, to the tune of an extra $600,000 per year, he said, and in recent months two of them had to be retired because the frames are cracked beyond repair, making them unsafe to haul passengers.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24801596/york-public-transportation-improve-bill

Cincinnati Streetcar Plan Pits Desire For Growth Against Fiscal Restraint

Downtown Cincinnati

Downtown Cincinnati (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CINCINNATI, OH — It has been a long time since a streetcar was just a streetcar here.

Instead, a $133 million project to build a 3.6-mile streetcar line through downtown has come to represent, depending on whom you talk to, a debt trap that will sink the city or an ambitious development effort that is central to Cincinnati’s revival.

And when the debate ended last week in an unexpected last-minute victory for the streetcar proponents, it was seen as both a vote of confidence in the city’s future and a reminder of how tenuous support for the project had become.

On the brink of being shut down, the project was saved by a successful petition drive and a written commitment, provided by the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation, from about 15 private backers to pay up to $9 million in operating costs, if needed, over the line’s first decade.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/us/cincinnati-streetcar-plan-pits-desire-for-growth-against-fiscal-restraint.html?_r=0