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Thread: SEPTA drops ball again (surprise!)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    SEPTA drops ball again (surprise!)

    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.


    DRPA
    News

    Released: 7/5/2005
    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 tmoore@phillynews.com.
    Last edited by jresta; 05 Jul 2005 at 11:15 PM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Philadelphia has got to have the worst public transit of any major intact pedestrian city in North America (NYC, CHI, BOS, SFO, MTL, TOR, WAS, PHL).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    jresta.....Thanx for the articles and your commentary. Those of us who like transit and transit news (but live in places without it) enjoy hearing about the trials and tribulations (and successes) of the bodies that run these trains.

    Your solution sounded simple. Amazing how people, agencies, and government always can find a way to xxxx-up simple logistics, simple signing.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Philadelphia has got to have the worst public transit of any major intact pedestrian city in North America (NYC, CHI, BOS, SFO, MTL, TOR, WAS, PHL).
    C'mon ablarc! Philly has the best 1950's era transit system in the world!

    Seriously, though, when SEPTA put out the call for resumes they must've interviewed everyone in the transit industry and decided that they'd only take the worst of the bunch.

    Philly has a great network that's been abused by a bunch of hacks and morons for the last 20 years.

    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    jresta.....Thanx for the articles and your commentary. Those of us who like transit and transit news (but live in places without it) enjoy hearing about the trials and tribulations (and successes) of the bodies that run these trains.

    Your solution sounded simple. Amazing how people, agencies, and government always can find a way to xxxx-up simple logistics, simple signing.

    Bear

    What kills me is that you have this regional rail system that can probably move close to 30,000 people per hour, per direction (it's double-tracked all along the trunk lines.) That's a ton of people but it's obviously not enough when you're talking about a crowd in excess of 600,000.

    On the other hand they have two heavy rail lines that cross a block from Suburban Station. The MFL which, during a normal rush hour, runs 6 car trains every 90-120 seconds. This translates to a capacity of roughly 36,000 people per hour. The BSS has roughly the same capacity on it's local line and can carry at least another 7,200 an hour on the express tracks (assuming they run an express every 10 minutes like they do on a normal weekday rush). We're talking about 100,000 people an hour here. Know we're getting somewhere near a manageable number.

    Why wouldn't you advertise the heck out of your subway system and the suburban bus and light rail connections available?

    I guess it's hard for me to get my head around what the hell they were thinking. Every transit planner should know that people always trickle in to an event (regular workdays included) and flood out when it's over.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 06 Jul 2005 at 12:29 PM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #5
    The sad thing about SEPTA's coverage of Live 8 was that I rode the regional rail all day and wasn't charged a single time. They probably didn't check too many tickets given how woefully unprepared they were to handle the packed trains that they created themselves by sticking to a Saturday schedule. I guess they don't need the farebox revenue though...

    I almost missed my flight because the R1 airport line was about an hour late.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    I almost missed my flight because the R1 airport line was about an hour late.
    That's another completely unacceptable aspect. If you lived here you would've seen the crowd at Suburban/Market East/30th Street and taken the subway down to Snyder Ave. and caught the bus to the airport.

    SEPTA just assumes that everyone using the system is a local who uses it all the time . . . and even then their maps and information systems aren't good enough.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Septa's system isn't that bad... they obviously just weren't prepared to handle so many people.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hitchhiker
    Septa's system isn't that bad... they obviously just weren't prepared to handle so many people.
    hitchhiker, it's only acceptable by North American standards, where we should be grateful that it exists at all. In Europe or Japan it would be a laughingstock; and that's true even in England, where everyone grouses about the transit. But you can get to distant Gatwick Airport on a frequent, reliable express train that hits 90mph. Dazzling by American standards.

    We -- here in the land of lip-service egaliarianism-- have gotten used to thinking of public transit as a grudging gift to the underclass, so we can superciluiosly drop our standards to the sub-unacceptable.

    At the top of the heap, Amtrak sets the pace. This benighted crew feels no obligation to meet schedules. Outside the Northeast Corridor, where businessmen are served, Amtrak trains are late almost 100% of the time, sometimes by ludicrous margins like ten hours.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hitchhiker
    Septa's system isn't that bad... they obviously just weren't prepared to handle so many people.
    In a way you're right. The system isn't bad. It's the way the system is run that is terrible. A lot of the stations are tired and we really need a new subway line but that's not what people normally complain about. When it comes down to it all the problems are related to how the SEPTA leadership deals with the ridership. Rather than run a system based on catering to the passenger their capital budget is oriented towards maintaining the infrastructure. It might make sense to some but it's incredibly shortsighted considering that half of their budget comes from the farebox.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    In a way you're right. The system isn't bad.
    One good thing about the system is that some commuter rail lines go all the way through Center City and out the other end. That capability would help Boston's commuter rail, which is really two unconnected systems running out of North Station and South Station. They've been talking about connecting the two systems for 100 years (sort of like New York's chimerical Second Avenue Subway).

    So you can actually contemplate a trip like Bryn Mawr-Doylestown, though at 104 minutes that's a considerable investment of time. American trains are slow as molasses compared with the ones in Europe or Japan. And what's that big, lazy Center City loop most commuter rail saunters through?
    Last edited by ablarc; 12 Jul 2005 at 3:20 PM.

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