transport | urbanism | adventures | pontification
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:
After 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.