SEPTA

Paoli Transportation Center moves forward … Included in SEPTA’s 2016-17 Capital Program

The following comment and photo was posted on Facebook today by Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline  —

County Commissioner Michelle Kichline —

I was delighted to hear the news that SEPTA has announced its 2016-27 capital program proposal recently. Among its projects that have been deemed ready for the next phase of design is the Paoli Transportation Center, a project I have had the privilege of working on as a member of the Paoli Task Force. SEPTA’s 2016-27 capital program shows funding for Phase I of the project, moving us closer toward a start of construction in 2016, as well as funding for the project’s phases thereafter for the Darby Road bridge and a parking garage. Paoli is on the move!

A user's photo.
Coincidentally, last night was the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Spring Lecture Series.  Our guest lecturer Greg Prichard presentation was “Pennsylvania Main Line Train Stations of Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships”.  Greg spoke about train station architecture and history, mthys vs. reality, evolution and growth of the railroad in our area and how past (and future) restoration efforts helped the stations to endure.  Discussing the train stations geographically from east to west, his presentation ended with Paoli Train Station.  During the Q & A following the presentation, I was asked for an update on the Paoli Transportation Center and I really couldn’t offer any new information.
So, after I saw Michelle’s Facebook comment,  I found SEPTA’s 2016 Capital Budget, dated April 2015 was just uploaded online. Below is a status on Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center contained in the recently released document:
SEPTA capital 2016
According to this graphic from SEPTA’s report, the $36 million Phase I design is underway with construction to begin in 2016. Phase I makes the station ADA accessible and includes a pedestrian overpass, elevators and new high level platform.
It appears that the “Paoli on the Move” website has not been updated in a year (April 2014) – perhaps with this exciting news from SEPTA, the timeline on the Tredyffrin Township website can be updated. It does look like the Paoli Transportation Center is taking steps in the right direction!

Paoli Transportation Center Plans Moving Ahead: Darby Road location selected for new train station

Last fall, SEPTA presented three options for the Paoli Transportation Center at an open house at the township building.  I received the following SEPTA press release from township manager, Bill Martin who had promised last week that an update was imminent.  After reviewing the public’s input and preference on the site location for the new train station, a  decision was announced today. Of the three alternatives, the Darby Road Extension was the preferred plan —   click here to review the three plans. A map of the Darby Road Extension Alternative is below.

According to SEPTA’s press release, in the Darby Road Extension Alternative plan, “the existing North Valley Road Bridge will be demolished and Darby Road will be extended across Lancaster Avenue over the railroad tracks and with a new bridge to be constructed.”    Both the Greenwood and the Plank Avenue options had the train station moving from its current location whereas the Darby Road Extension plan alternative leaves the station in the same place.

It’s exciting to see that the train station  project has completed another hurdle in what has been a very long process — thanks to all that helped with this step!

SEPTA Press Release:

Darby Road Site Selected for Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center

PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 13, 2013)—SEPTA, in conjunction with a consortium of stakeholders, has designated the Darby Road Extension Alternative as the preferred site for the proposed Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center.

The Darby Road Extension Alternative was one of three options presented at the October 2012 Paoli Transportation Visions Open House where over 300 residents and community stakeholders provided their opinions on each alternative. After the event, their feedback was compiled and Gannett Fleming presented SEPTA with an alternative analysis report. Both showed the Darby Road Extension Alternative as the best and most favored option. Under this option, the existing North Valley Road Bridge will be demolished and Darby Road will be extended across Lancaster Avenue over the railroad tracks and with a new bridge to be constructed.

“We considered all of the options and opinions presented,” Robert Lund, SEPTA Assistant General Manager of Engineering Maintenance & Construction said. “It was important for us to hear what the community wanted.”

“The demolition of the outmoded North Valley Road Bridge, and the extension of Darby Road, is a smart, community based solution,” Michelle Kichline Chairman of Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors said. “It is a critical first step in the long planned redevelopment of Paoli and the Transportation center.”

Located in Chester County the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center will be in the heart of the Paoli Business District. It will feature a fully accessible Regional Rail Station that will accommodate SEPTA buses, private carrier shuttle buses, taxis, pedestrians, and cyclists. A large, multi-story parking garage will also be needed as part of the Center. Roadway, streetscape and track improvements are also planned to enhance rail service and improve traffic flow in the area.

“This project is tremendously important to our Paoli community and to the region,” Pennsylvania State Representative Warren Kampf said. “I look forward to working with all stakeholders — especially local residents — and SEPTA on this preferred site. We need to create a Transportation Center that addresses long unsolved problems with the current station, the road network, the parking, the ever-increasing commuter demands and which promises to be a centerpiece of a better downtown Paoli.”

Paoli Station serves approximately 1,300 passengers each day. The station is located along SEPTA’s Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail Line and AMTRAK’s Philadelphia/Harrisburg Keystone Corridor. SEPTA bus routes 92, 105, 204, 205, and 206 serve the station in addition to private carrier shuttle buses that provide transportation to the Great Valley and Chesterbrook corporate centers.

“The Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center will be a great benefit to the residents of Chester County,” Pennsylvania State Representative Duane Milne said. “The new station will not only allow residents to reach destinations such as Philadelphia or Harrisburg more easily, but it will also benefit the local economy, as well. New businesses will likely open in the area of the new station to accommodate the needs of the many commuters passing through each day. “I am glad that everyone involved in the project came together and made a thoughtful decision on its future location. Having selected a site, now the exciting construction process can begin and this wonderful project will soon become a reality.”

“This is a project that has been literally decades in the making and one that will provide a significant boost to our local economy,” Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman said. “The new Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center will be a crucial artery for local businesses, commuters, employees and residents throughout the region, as well as a 21st century transportation hub for the downtown Paoli business district. Design improvements will address issues with the current station, such as parking and traffic enhancements and better access for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. But perhaps most importantly, the project will go hand-in-hand with vital rail-line upgrades to Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor train service – upgrades that mean faster trains and shorter travel times for commuters.”

In addition to SEPTA, the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center project has been guided by a consortium of stakeholders consisting of Tredyffrin Township, Willistown Township, AMTRAK, PennDOT, the Chester County and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commissions, elected officials, residents and the business community. For more information about the project, visit http://www.paolionthemove.org/.

Malvern Redevelopment Project — So close, and yet so far away (from Paoli)

Reading Aubrey Whelan’s article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, ‘Malvern apartment complex nears completion after 10 years in the works’ had me thinking about Paoli, and the long overdue  intermodal transportation center.  Malvern … so close, and yet so far away from Paoli.

The Eli Kahn development project in Malvern is transforming – with an estimated $45 million price tag there’s 25,000 square feet of new construction stretching 1,400 feet along King Street.  The mixed-use buildings plan has retail shops and restaurants on the first floor with 190 luxury apartments above.  Even a Kimberton Whole Foods is planned that may give Wegmans, down the road some competition.

We all understand that projects such as Malvern’s King Street development don’t come without their challenges … how to revitalize in the midst of quaint Victorian facades and street lights … how to move a town into the 21st century without losing the charm of its 18th century roots.  Change is never easy and not everyone has shared the vision for Malvern’s future.   Media, Phoenixville, Wayne, West Chester – I am sure that all these communities saw their share of resistance to change.  But today these towns are testaments to those who had the vision to believe in ‘what could be’ and the passion to ‘make it happen’.

I know that Eli Kahn’s project in Malvern is not the same kind of development as the Paoli Transportation Center. However, Malvern’s mixed-use commercial and residential buildings in the King Street business district (within walking distance of their train station) creates a model for Paoli’s redevelopment plans, beyond just a new train station.

I checked the Paoli on the Move website, www.paolionthemove.org  and there are no additional updates since the Paoli Transportation Visions Open House at the township building with SEPTA last October. Frustrated, I sent an email to Michelle Kichline, as chair of the Board of Supervisors, and to John DiBuonaventuro, as the western district supervisor, asking for an update on the project. I also sent an email to Lucille Songhaim, Septa’s Community Relations Coordinator asking the status on the Paoli Transportation Center.

I received a response from Michelle, thanking me for my inquiry and stating, We have been working on a joint update/ press release with SEPTA and Representative Kampf’s office. We expect SEPTA to release it soon. As soon as they do, I will have Bill Martin make sure you get a copy.”  I asked for a project update at the BOS meeting on February 11, and I am pleased to report that township manager Bill Martin emailed that he will add the update to the meeting.

Paoli Transportation Center project — Taking Another Step

Monday morning marks the next step for the Paoli Transportation Center project!

Five months ago on January 31, I wrote that SEPTA had awarded a $7.5 million contract to Gannett Fleming for the design of a new Paoli regional rail station and parking garage.  The plan calls for building the new station 80 feet west of the current train station location to better connect SEPTA and private buses.  The plan will involve high-level platforms and the reworking of Amtrak interlocking system.  PennDOT selected Parsons Brinckerhoff for the interlocking design work on the Keystone Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, which include the Paoli Transportation Center. Gannett Fleming design work is to take place through 2014.

At the same time that SEPTA announced its award to Gannett Fleming, the township selected McMahon Associates as the engineering consultant team to complete a study to outline recommendations for the necessary road improvements, including the bridge, needed to support the new transportation center.  The McMahon study will address congestion, public safety and establish a plan for an overall vision for the new train station through traffic calming, streetscape and intersection modifications.  This is a state-funded project and completion is expected by the end of 2013.

Tredyffrin selected Bergmann Associates as the engineering team to design the signal and roadway improvements for the intersection at Rt. 252 and 30.  The design will be based on the 2011 feasibility study.  This design study is state and federally funded and expected to be completed by 2013/14.

Well folks, it looks like the Paoli Transportation project is taking its next step – tomorrow, Monday, June 25 at 7:30 AM, there’s a press conference at Paoli Village Shoppes to officially announce the start of the Paoli Transportation Center project.

Paoli Train Station Back on Track with $7.5 Million from SEPTA!

Looks like the Paoli Transportation Center just took a step forward!

According to Anthony Campisi of PlanPhilly, the SEPTA board has

” . . . approved a nearly $7.5 million contract to Gannett Fleming Inc. for design of a new Paoli regional rail station. Long a priority of Tredyffrin Township, the Chester County municipality where the station is located, the current plan would involve building a new station 80 feet west of the current location that better connects with SEPTA and private buses and involves a reworking of a nearby Amtrak interlocking, as well as the installation of high-level platforms.”

This is exciting news for the community — we all know this project has been in limbo with virtually no movement. At the risk of sounding too enthusiastic, I think the next move on the project was funding from SEPTA.  With the design team for the project named, maybe now the project will get back on track.

Former State Rep Paul Drucker championed the Paoli Transportation Center project during his tenure in the PA State House.  After losing his re-election bid to Warren Kampf in 2010, Drucker has continued to stay involved in the Paoli Transportation project as a private citizen.

So . . .  was it just coincidence that Drucker officially declared his 2012 candidacy for another run against Kampf, the same week that SEPTA awarded the design contract for the train station?  What’s the saying about there are no coincidences in life.  Kampf sent out notification of the SEPTA contract award via his Facebook page.

Looks like the 2012 match-up between Drucker and Kampf could once again place the Paoli Transportation Center squarely in the center as a campaign issue.  If nothing else, the use of the train station as a campaign issue may keep the transportation project moving forward.  Here’s hoping . . .

Paoli Transportation Center Project Takes Big Steps Forward – A Letter-of-Interest Request Issued by Tredyffrin Township and Request-for-Proposal Issued by SEPTA!

Plans Afoot For Troubled Paoli Rail Yard, Can It Become A Transportation Center With Buses And Better Parking?”

This Philadelphia Inquirer headline above was not written this week, this month, this year — no, the article is seventeen years old, dating from September 14, 1994!

This years-old Inquirer article focused on the possibility of turning the “problematic Paoli rail yard into a sophisticated intermodal transportation center” which would accommodate “a transportation center, complete with buses and improved parking.” Can it be that the dream, this vision for the future may still be possible?  Maybe so.

At the last Board of Supervisors Meeting, I was disappointed that the supervisors did not update on the process of the Paoli Transportation Center.  There had been previous discussion about an upcoming issuance of a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) on the N. Valley/Central Avenue road and bridge improvement project (part of the Paoli Transportation Center project) and I was seeking an update — specifically was an RFP issued?  If so, what was the status, how many bidders, due date, etc.

Many of us have followed the saga of the train station for years, and remain interested in the progress (if any) on the project.  My intention in asking for an official public update was certainly not to step on the toes of either the township staff or our elected officials, but just to seek information.  What’s the old adage, “Ask and ye shall receive”? I was asking the questions, but I guess I wasn’t asking the right way or to the right people.

Although not listed on the township website, I discovered with some Internet research that the Tredyffrin Township Engineering Department has issued a ‘Letter of Interest’ for the “Paoli Road Improvement Project – Feasibility Study and Public Involvement Program”. According to the township’s Letter of Interest request, all phases of the Feasibility Study will be 100% state funded and that the township is encouraging responses from small firms and firms that have not previously done work for the township.

The township’s public Letter of Interest advertisement gives the full solicitation details on the Paoli Road Improvement Project and includes the following:

Tredyffrin Township Letter of Interest Request:

Paoli Road Improvement Project – Feasibility Study and Public Improvement Program

Tredyffrin Township will retain a PADOT qualified engineering and public involvement consultant team to provide a feasibility study and public involvement and outreach program to assess the traffic, roadway, infrastructure and community stakeholder needs, and identify potential alternatives for the existing local and PADOT roadway network located in Paoli, in the vicinity of S.R. 0030 (Lancaster Avenue), E./W. Central Avenues, Paoli Pike/ Greenwood Avenue, Darby Road, Plank Avenue and N./S. Valley Roads. The Township seeks a feasibility study that provides cost effective alternatives to allow for traffic calming, streetscape, intersection modification, and signal timing adjustments to address existing congestion and public safety concerns while providing for the needs of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, rail users and the overall vision for a multi-modal Paoli.

Alternatives included in the feasibility study should emphasize solutions that meet current PADOT design and safety standards, and the local stakeholder and Township vision for the Paoli Transportation and Town Center Districts. In addition to the Feasibility Study, an intensive coordinated public outreach and stakeholder involvement process must parallel the identified Feasibility Study phases to ensure final recommendations have been thoroughly discussed, stakeholder input received while ultimately working toward a consensus on roadway improvements for consideration and prioritization for future design and construction phases of the project.

The township’s Letter of Interest words, “. . .  intensive coordinated public outreach and stakeholder involvement process . . .” aligns with my request that the public remain ‘in the loop’ and informed on the process of this important community project.

The list of companies already registered to submit a Letter of Interest to the township on the Paoli transportation project is impressive!  To date, 50+ companies have registered, including local companies from Wayne, Malvern, West Chester, Collegeville, Exton and Kimberton and several companies from Lancaster, Gettysburg, New Jersey and Delaware.  Source Management Onvia of Seattle, Washington has also registered to bid the project!  Letters of interest are due by bidders to the township by 2 PM on September 15, 2011. It is my understanding that registration does not necessarily imply that all registered companies will submit a Letter of Interest.

According to the Letter of Interest advertisement by the township, the evaluation and selection process by Tredyffrin Twp is:

For the purposes of negotiating a contract, the ranking of a minimum of three (3) firms will be done directly from the Letters of Interest. Technical proposals will not be required prior to the ranking. Only the top three (3) firms will be requested to prepare technical proposals. The top three (3) firms will then be ranked based off the Technical Proposal and the top firm will be requested to submit a cost proposal.

In another big step for the Paoli Transportation Center project, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has issued a Request-for-Proposal, Proposal Number 11-091-DMH for qualified “Consultants for Architectural/Engineering Services for Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center”.

SEPTA’s A&E Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center RFP description states:

Consultant services include, but are not limited: the development of construction documents (plans and specifications) for the construction of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center in accordance with the scope of work of this RFP and in full compliance ADA and other governing authorities.   The deadline for proposals is September 7, 2011.

The issuance of a Letter of Interest by Tredyffrin Twp and a Request-for-Proposal from SEPTA is positive and encouraging news for the community on the Paoli Transportation Center project and marks real progress in this long journey.

As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Why Does Downingtown Need a ‘New’ Train Station . . . Current station is less than 20 years old! What about Assistance for Train Station Projects already started . . . Ardmore? Paoli?

I was surprised by this headline in the Daily Local, ‘State to consider new Downingtown train station’ – What?  How about helping the Ardmore Transit Center project or our own Paoli Transportation Center?

According to the article, Bob Garrett, representative from the PA Dept of Transportation presented information to the Downingtown Borough Council that a state-funded study ($200K) will get underway shortly to look for a new site for their train station. What’s wrong with their current train station?

This makes no sense to me for several reasons.  First off, how is it possible that less than 2 weeks since passing the state budget, (with major cuts to education and human services) there is money to move the location of Downingtown train station? I researched the current train station in Downingtown and discovered the station is less than 20 years old!  The 19th century train station in Downingtown burned down in the early 1990s and was rebuilt sometime prior to 2000.  So why does the state think that Downingtown needs a new station and a new location?  Apparently, the current station needs more parking and the renovation of the present platform will not allow for sufficient handicap accessibility. 

I checked and the Downingtown train station has 213 parking spaces. I believe that like Paoli, Downingtown serves as both a SEPTA and Amtrak station. However, unlike Paoli, only select trains on the Paoli/Thorndale (R5) actually go to the Downingtown train station.  The daily passenger traffic at Paoli train station is almost 3 times that of the Downingtown train station.  According to a FY2010 Amtrak fact sheet, Paoli daily traffic is 155,000 passengers versus 59,000 passengers at Downingtown train station.  Based on the level of passenger traffic, additional parking needs, building improvement, etc. why is the focus not on the Paoli Transportation Center but on moving the location of the Downingtown train station.  The redevelopment plans for the Paoli Transportation Center have been in the works for years, whereas the Downingtown train station project appears to be the new kid on the block.

According to Garrett, the state wants to improve the train stations from Philadelphia to Harrisburg in hopes of increasing ridership.  This expensive study is to decide where in Downingtown to put the new train station.  As an aside, I found it interesting that the Dept of Transportation is without a ‘plan’ of what to do with the old Downingtown train station property once they move the location and build a new station. 

My question to the Dept of Transportation is why not finish the train station projects already underway before starting a new one . . . like the Ardmore Transit Center and our own Paoli Transportation Center?  When asked how much this project would cost, Garrett was not sure but a renovation at the Elizabethtown train station was $12.5 million.  Garrett offered that the state would help with the funding of the train station project in Downingtown.

Online I found a ‘Transportation Funding Crisis’ document which lists the public transportation projects for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District-6 which includes Philadelphia, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties.  The comprehensive list of transportation projects includes Ardmore and Paoli transportation centers, but no listing whatsoever for the Downingtown train station project.  To be fair, there is no date on the Dept. of Transportation document so it may be a year or two old.  We know that the state has a finite amount of money for transportation projects, so why add a new project when there is an established list of train station projects already approved? Should there not be a priority to state funding for existing projects?

I would like an update on the Paoli Transportation Center . . . it seems as if the project is in limbo.  Where exactly does the project stand?  If the answer is, there is ‘no money’, than I think we need to contact Bob Garrett at the PA Department of Transportation office.  Obviously if the state is willing to fund the purchase of property and the building of a new train station in Downingtown, that has one-third the level of daily traffic as the Paoli train station, this community is missing out! 

What about Paoli Transportation Center — why can’t we get help? Who to contact — Township supervisors . . . State Rep Kampf . . . Senator Dinniman?

 ————————————————————————-

I want to mention an op-ed article written by Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello titled, ‘We Must Address Transportation Needs’.  As Costello says, “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the inevitable and ignore the fact that our aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and enhancements . . . “

Federal assistance is no longer available for the state’s critical infrastructure needs; help needs to come from Harrisburg.

SEPTA Pulls $10 Million in Financial Assistance from Ardmore Train Station Project . . . what does this mean for Paoli Transportation Center?

SEPTA announced that due to insufficient funding from Washington they would be forced to cut $110 million from its capital budget starting July 1. Back in June, I compared the financing and future of the Ardmore Train Station redevelopment project and the Paoli Transportation project. (see Will Ardmore Transit’s Funding Issues Impact the Future of Paoli Transportation Center?)  At that time, the developer Dranoff Properties and Lower Merion officials were concerned but optimistic that the money troubles would be resolved and that the project would continue to move forward.

However, it looks like the difficult economic times continue to rear its ugly head.  This week, SEPTA announced their 2011 budget decision to remove $10 million in capital fund assistance from the Ardmore Train Station project.  This latest negative news is leaving the future unknown for the Ardmore redevelopment project.  As recently as this past  August, Lower Merion received a $9 million RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project) grant from Gov. Rendell towards Ardmore’s $35.65 million project.

If you recall, Ardmore’s redevelopment project is much more than simply improvement to the train station.  The project calls for the design of a new mini-main street, including new apartments, restaurants, township building, and large parking garage, in addition to a new train station. It appears that some Lower Merion officials are dragging their feet about continued support for the proposed plan as originally presented.  In light of the difficult economic situation and SEPTA’s recent decision maybe the key to keeping the project going forward is a scaled-back version of the original plan, and a specific focus on the train station only?  Just an idea, don’t know if that makes sense to the overall design.

Following on the  heels of SEPTA’s depressing news, Carla from Save Ardmore Coalition has presented a positive, upbeat message of support for Ardmore and its business community.  Taking a ‘lemon’ of a situation and making lemonade – is the “Discover More in Ardmore” campaign; and just in time for the holidays!  I received the following message from Carla . . . one of hope and encouragement!

We believe in Ardmore….not the what ifs of maybe, eventually, possibly redevelopment plans, but the Ardmore of the present. 

We love our shops and our residents and our little friendly Main Street.This week you may see our ad in Main Line Times in the gift guide, on Monday our shopping bags done in partnership with Ardmore Business Association are set to arrive at Suburban Office. 

Our “Discover More in Ardmore” campaign also goes kind of “support Ardmore” viral today – we have purchased signs at train stations station and they are going up today. We have one sign at each of the following 5 train stations – Paoli, Wayne, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore and Narberth. We hope all get the message:

Discover More in Ardmore. 

We believe.

I noted that Governor Rendell’s proposed additional $1 billion in bonded debt has been countered and reduced to $650 million by State Treasurer Rob McCord.  This new debit was earmarked for Commonwealth projects already in progress or that the state had contractually agreed to complete. I don’t know if this money would directly impact the Ardmore redevelopment project.  

This discussion of SEPTA’s cut to the Ardmore Train Station project does call in to question what the future holds for the Paoli Transportation Center.  Has our transportation project been relegated permanently to the back burner of discussion?  Wonder how the new administration in Harrisburg will look at these transportation project?  With support . . . ?

SEPTA No Longer a Numbers Game . . . And We Lose Our ‘R’ . . . Effective Sunday, July 25!

In less than 24 hours, our regional rail numbers will disappear forever.  Yes, starting Sunday, July 25, all regional rail lines will be renamed after their end destination. SEPTA will no longer be a numbers game so we lose our ‘R’ and our ‘5’.   Our R5 will become the Paoli/Thorndale and Doylestown lines . . . R6 Norristown line will be renamed the Manayunk/Norristown line, etc. etc..

Philadelphia visitors, tourists and new riders claim that the regional rail ‘R’ system was confusing and people have been known to get on the train going the wrong direction but still . . . I’m going to miss our ‘R’ and our ‘5’.

The regional rail is also getting a color change.  Trains will be designated by a blue/gray color, instead of their separate colors for each line.  I thought it was easier to read the Center City transit maps by following the color-coding!  But wait, there’s more change on the tracks.

They’re also making some schedule changes for regional rail including a makeover to the timetable schedules; presumably making them easier-to-read.  The designations will be abbreviated with three letters and all schedules will have a name reference box.

To make it even easier to get on the right train, the display signs on the regional trains have also experienced a makeover to show the direction the train is traveling.   Our ‘R5 Paoli’ display sign will have a ‘Center City to Paoli’ sign starting tomorrow.  Conductors will change display signs to show the outbound destination of their trains when they enter Center City.

I’m not suggesting that SEPTA commuters should panic come Monday morning.  In fact, officials from SEPTA are not expecting the changes will impact the regular rider because their commuting routine does not depend on the SEPTA signage. In fact, there will be customer service agents around to hand out new schedules and answer questions during the transition. 

Say your goodbyes to the R5 today. . . starting tomorrow, it will be no more.

Starting in July, SEPTA is Taking our 'R'!

Starting in July . . . SEPTA is taking our ‘R’.   I had heard rumors and come July. . . it becomes a reality. The Paoli R5 is loosing its ‘R’.  SEPTA has made it official, they will no longer use the R-number system for designating the rail service routes.  Rails service routes will just be known by their end destination.

A bit of historical trivia – the R-number was devised by a University of Pennsylvania transportation professor in the early 1980’s in anticipation of the opening of the Center City commuter tunnel. The tunnel connected the former separate regional rail networks of the Pennsylvania and Reading train lines and made it possible to operate the trains from one suburban terminal to another via Center City. There have been changes to the system over the years and now only about one-third of the Regional Rail trains make end-to-end trips through the tunnel, which is a primary SEPTA argument to remove the R-numbering system.

With SEPTA’s replacement of the R-number system to the ‘end destination’ system, where does that leave our R5 – will the train line be known as ‘Paoli’ or Thorndale or ‘Paoli/Thorndale’?   All outbound trains stop at Paoli but all outbound trains that stop at Paoli do not continue on to Thorndale. (Thorndale has a reduced schedule as a final destination).  SEPTA is using the end destination labelling  as the way to designate the train routes which works fine with outbound trains from the city.  That is once SEPTA determines what the end destination is for the R5 . . . will the train be known as ‘Paoli’ or ‘Thorndale’ or ‘Paoli/Thorndale’?   (I already want our ‘R’  back!).

Using SEPTA’s idea of naming the train by its end destination, I then wonder how the inbound trains will be labeled.  Some have suggested that SEPTA should just name the trains according to where they end, regardless whether they are inbound or outbound.  Schedules can include outbound destinations for inbound trains at the top, just below or above the train number. Trains terminating in Center City can be labeled “30th Street” or “Temple University” accordingly, depending on which direction they’re headed.

But there’s more . . . if you are that person who depends on SEPTA’s color-coding to make it easier to get around, that too is coming to an end.  Come July there will be no more color-coding of individual routes which are currently on schedules and signage. The color codes will be replaced by the light bluish-gray color that is now used in the Center City District.

All of this sounds very confusing to me – why can’t we just keep our ‘R’?

Community Matters © 2015 Frontier Theme