What follows is a press release from PATCO about their relative success moving their part of the enormous crowd after the Live 8 concert. On Saturdays PATCO normally runs two car trains every 12 minutes. For the concert they switched to six-car trains every 10 minutes. After sizing up the inbound crowd in the morning they got ready for the post-concert crush and switched to their outbound rush schedule which is a six-car train every 3-5 minutes.
SEPTA failed (once again) on the same front. An article from the Philly Daily News follows the PATCO press release. My commentary is interspersed.
For Live 8, PATCO Carries Nearly Five Times Normal Ridership
PATCO and RiverLink Ferry Report Increased Ridership for Holiday Weekend
With the eyes of the world on Philadelphia for last Saturday’s Live 8 concert event, the PATCO High Speed Line carried 52,952 riders, nearly five times the normal number of Saturday riders – all without any delays or hassles getting to the concert in Philadelphia and returning to South Jersey.
PATCO ran six-car trains every 10 minutes throughout the day, and at the height of the demand at the end of the concert, trains ran every few minutes to accommodate the concertgoers returning home. PATCO ridership for the three-day July 4th Holiday weekend is as follows:
Saturday, July 2: 52,952 (compared to a Saturday average of 11,100)
Sunday, July 3: 10,122 (compared to a Sunday average of 7,486)
Monday, July 4: 11,001 (compared to last July 4th of 9,788)
DRPA and PATCO received several calls and emails on Tuesday from passengers who rode the Speed Line over the weekend commending PATCO for its service. In one email, a regular PATCO rider stated, “The extra crowds caused no extra problems on Saturday. I was impressed with everything you did.” In addition to the extra trains, PATCO also kept open ticket booths, assigned police officers at the stations to assist riders, and assigned PATCO staffers to hand out walking maps to the concert area as riders got off the trains.
At the RiverLink Ferry, ridership was also up for the holiday weekend totaling 10,335 -- more than double the previous weekend. RiverLink ridership for the three-day holiday weekend was:
Saturday, July 2: 3,085
Sunday, July 3: 2,757
Monday, July 4: 4,493
“Since the announcement of the Live 8 concert, we have worked very closely with the City of Philadelphia and our partner transit agencies to coordinate efforts to push public transportation,” said John J. Matheussen, DRPA’s Chief Executive Officer and PATCO’s President. “We are proud to have served the people of the Delaware Valley by getting them where they wanted to be without any incidents or delays. The weekend was an extremely successful one for PATCO, the RiverLink Ferry and our bridges.”
The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation and development agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, and the PATCO High Speed Line, the AmeriPort Intermodal Rail Center, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry.
Posted on Mon, Jul. 04, 2005
SEPTA: System just couldn't cope
The crowds leaving Live 8 were unprecedented, officials said, with most trying to use one station.
By Tina Moore and Mario F. Cattabiani
Inquirer Staff Writers
In the aftermath of Live 8, while the rest of the city was generally basking in good reviews, SEPTA found itself defending its performance handling passengers after Saturday's concert.
Thousands of riders, hot and tired and frustrated, were stuck in long delays at Suburban Station after the concert.
"They should have been better prepared," said concertgoer Jack Rosen, who gave up on SEPTA after waiting 40 minutes and paid $37 for a cab ride home to Ridley.
As soon as they announced the concert a month ago every public official and every media outlet was saying "Take transit!" but offered no additional info except maybe a link to SEPTA's website or how to buy a daypass. I was waiting for a map of the concert area showing all of the transit stops bordering the "no drive" zone. It never appeared. Then SEPTA started saying "we're prepared for the crowds. we're going to keep our regular Saturday schedule (one train per hour on all routes but the R5 and the R1 airport train) but we're going to add 4 cars to each train. I was ROTFLOL when i read that.
Lets do the math:
1 six-car train = 1,200 passengers
One train per hour x 12 regional rail lines = 12 trains
1200 passengers x
12 trains =
14,400 people per hour
Does this make sense to anyone if all reasonable expectations point towards 1,000,000 people? SEPTA regional rail carries 110,000 on a normal workday and they run trains every 15-20 minutes during rush hour with express trains thrown into the mix and they still have standing room only trains.
The criticism came at an unwelcome time for the financially troubled agency, mired in prolonged contract talks and looking to the state legislature for a long-term funding solution.
State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D., Montgomery) said yesterday that he has long had concerns about the management at SEPTA, not only in the transit agency's daily operations but also in how they deal with special events, such as Live 8.
"This was SEPTA's opportunity to shine and show themselves to the greater Philadelphia region and the world, and they seem to have come up short," he said. "And, frankly, this is one of the concerns I have as a legislator when they come and say they need hundreds of millions of dollars."
SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said the train system was simply unable to handle the "historic" number of people who tried to use it after the concert.
About three times the average 50,000 people - 100,000 round-trip rides - who commute on a regular weekday took the train to and from Live 8, he said. While most of the riders came into the city from various stations, the majority of them left from the same one - Suburban Station.
In response, SEPTA stacked up trains in the station and began running them continuously rather than on a schedule after the concert, Maloney said. The number of people made it difficult to load and unload trains and slowed progress, he said.
Maloney Baloney. They had a pretty good idea of how many people took the train into the city and they couldn't figure out that most of these people were going to go home the same way? If Suburban Station was at such capacity they could've easily made some announcements: "If you're going to the northern suburbs on the R2, R3, or R5 please proceed through the station and take the Broad St. Subway northbound to Fern Rock Station." or "If you're going to the western suburbs please take the El to 30th Street Station." Then place people throughout the station to guide people along their way. It's not hard. But "too many people in Suburban Station at one time" was a symptom, not the problem
"The way we view it was that it was unprecedented in its size and unprecedented in our ability to handle it," he said. "What was remarkable to me was how calm people were. It couldn't have gone better."
SEPTA board chairman Pat Deon said he also did not have all the details but that the system probably just couldn't handle the number of people who tried to use it.
"I'm not sure we ever had the capacity to handle that many people at one time," he said.
The reason there were too many people in the station was because they weren't running enough trains to clear them out of there. Using "too many people at one station" as an excuse is garbage. They ran into the same delay problems with the inbound crowd because they were only running one train per hour SEPTA could've easily run 4x as many trains as they did and probably more. PATCO police held people back on the concourse until their was enough room on the platform. NJTransit and PATH police do this every New Year's Eve in NYC.
They saw the inbound crowd and they had at least 4 hours to put their contingencies into effect (if they even had contingencies). If it was solely crowding at Suburban Station they could've easily redirected to people to Market East, Fern Rock, and 30th Street but then you would've just had people waiting just as long, in different places, and under slightly less crowded conditions.
When asked why people were told to use the transit system to get to the show, he blamed the city.
"The city and event coordinators forced the situation when they cut off all those blocks to be a no-drive zone," Deon said.
Mayor Street said yesterday that he had heard about the SEPTA problems but did not believe they would hurt the city.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and people who came in from the suburbs knew they were coming to an event where there could be a million people," he said. "I think most people who came were satisfied, and if they had to wait a while at the end of the day, this was still a great event."
Rosen, who had left his car at home and even purchased a special $8 ticket for rides to and from the show, said he probably would not go through the frustration of taking SEPTA again.
"When you go down the steps, there's the area where the booths are," Rosen said. "There was nobody there to give you information. And it was hot."
Contact staff writer Tina Moore at 215-854-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.