SEPTA Shenanigans – Norristown R100 Switch Failure

I enjoyed a 35 minute delay while riding the Norristown High Speed Line (R100) out of 69th Street this morning.  SEPTA was planning to operate single track service for tree-trimming work.  After leaving Wynnewood Rd., outbound trolleys were supposed to transfer to the inbound track, returning to the outbound track at Bryn Mawr:

NHSLAfter departing Wynnewood Rd., however, my trolley did not switch onto the incoming tracks.  So the operator of the trolley stopped, consulted with dispatch, and was instructed to back up through the incomplete interlocking at Wynnewood Rd. onto the inbound tracks.  They quickly realized that this left nowhere for the inbound trolley to go, so we moved back forward onto the outbound tracks, jamming the switch in the process.  So the inbound trolley was stuck at the platform at Wynnewood Rd., and we couldn’t proceed until maintenance reset the switch for it to leave.

Things got a bit chaotic on the trolley.  A number of passengers destined for Paoli had boarded an R5 earlier in the morning, only to experience a power outage and the train’s reversal to 30th St.  There, they were told to take the MFL to 69th St., the NHSL to Radnor, and the 105 bus to Paoli; halfway through this long detour, their train had to back up again, and some were pretty unhappy.

Despite some annoyed passengers, SEPTA responded fairly well.  The operator was paying attention, stopped the trolley when needed, and kept passengers informed of what was happening.  The maintenance team that responded acted out of an abundance of caution in closely inspecting the malfunctioning switch before each trolley movement.  Most passengers appreciated this and recognized the incident for what it was: an indication of the need for increased transit infrastructure funding.

And of course, the MBTA fulfilled its function well today in showing that things can always be worse [via bostonist].

Google Transit for LA Metro

The Los Angeles County MTA finally launched Google Transit, or at least a “data test” for it.  Too bad SEPTA beat them by a week.

Media Trolley Getaway Attempt

Route 101 Trolley at 69th St

Route 101 Trolley at 69th St

Earlier this week, two suspects robbed a bank in Media and tried to escape on public transportation.  They boarded Route 101, the trolley I often take from the Springfield Mall near Swarthmore to either Media or 69th Street.  From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Yesterday, after the Sovereign Bank branch at Providence Road and Baltimore Pike in Media was robbed, the two suspects were spotted climbing on board the Route 101 trolley…

News of the robbery went out on the police radio and officers were stationed at every stop along the trolley route, said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams.


ACC Tower Rendering

The American Commerce Center Tower, which will soar above the recently completed Comcast Center in Center City, Philadelphia, passed its last zoning test last week.  When completed, the skyscraper will be the third tallest building in the United States.  It’s great that the developer is stressing SEPTA and AMTRAK accessibility and seeking LEED Gold Certification.  If construction goes as scheduled, the tower should be completed in 2012, the same year as the Cira Center South project.  It’s exciting that Philadelphia is becoming quite a hub of architecture.

Thanksgiving Travels

Out of service restroom at PHL

Out of service restroom at PHL

Unlike the many travellers who faced delays into the Philadelphia airport yesterday, my Thanksgiving travels went quite smoothly.   I rode the R3 from Swarthmore to 30th Street to catch an Amtrak train to Washington, DC on Thanksgiving morning.  After spending Thanksgiving at my cousins’ house, I drove down to Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon.  Other than some minor traffic congestion and an extended break (including stops at Wendy’s, Sonic, and Wawa) at I-95’s exit 61B south of Richmond, the trip was expedient.

My flight from Raleigh Durham to Philadelphia on Southwest was a piece of cake (and I used one of my stockpiled ATT Wi-Fi cards that PHL gives out to college students for internet at RDU), though taking the 37 to the 109 bus to get back to campus took a while.  The only hiccup I could find the whole weekend was a closed bathroom at PHL.

I had some great food over the weekend: the traditional Thanksgiving fare, Raclette, and my first tastes of pecan pie and Allen & Son’s Barbecue (the Ducks Unlimited stickers on the front window and the taxodermied mallard above my table completed this lovely North Carolina cultural experience).  And, in what has become a Thanksgiving tradition for me at my cousin’s house, I helped make (and devout) four trays of apple crisp.  I may be able to work off the calories by Christmas…

New York in the Rain

Crossing into New Jersey on the Betsy Ross Bridge

Crossing into New Jersey on the Betsy Ross Bridge

I made it up to New York for lunch on Saturday.  Exploring Central Park was fun, though quite wet in the rain.  I went to lunch at La Palapa, a good Mexican place in the Village.  I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to their vegetarian chalupa appetizer.

Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Megabus from 30th Street to Penn Station was punctual as usual and I made good use of the Wi-Fi.  My SEPTA train from Swarthmore, on the other hand, was late and arrived at 30th Street when my bus was supposed to be leaving.  I sprinted down the steps and out the front door, barely making the bus.

Inside the Silverliner V

I finally made it into the Silverliner V mockup at Suburban Station.  It’s quite the rolling stock.  Pictures:

Additional Door

Additional Door

Exterior LED Destination Display

Exterior LED Destination Display

Interior

Interior

Interior LCD Screen

Interior LCD Screen

Silverliner V in Suburban Station

Silverliner V walkthrough on Track 0 at Suburban Station

SEPTA has a mockup of the new Silverliner V cars available for the public to walk through at Suburban Station.  Unfortunately, my last couple of trips into Center City have been either too rushed or too late to go through the car.  I plan to finally make it in next week during fall break.  Having three level platform doors will really help reduce dwelltimes in Center City.  I’m most excited about the digital LED destination signs.  The plastic placards they use now are frequently wrong, though they are quite the ticket for dorm decorations around campus.

One of the many Silverliner V advertisments posted around Suburban Station

One of the many Silverliner V advertisments posted around Suburban Station