SEPTA: Somewhere Else People Travel Around

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dmuth's picture
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The scene in Ardmore train station this morning


So for the second day in a row, my commute was just plain nasty. The scene on the right is what it looked like in Ardmore train station this morning.

What it came down to was that, for reasons not entirely clear to us, yesterday's 7:39 train out of Ardmore was cancelled, the next train blew right by us, and we didn't board the train until about 8 AM.  Today, it was similar, the 7:39 train was delayed by about 20 minutes, meaning we didn't board until 8 AM, causing the station to fill up as much as it did.

On top of that, the trains were absolutely stuffed.  Standing room only.  This morning, we skipped Merion and Overbrook stations because of the train being packed. Yesterday morning, we also skipped Narberth station.

And the weather was just fine both days.  It was clear, and not very cold.  So bad weather just isn't an excuse here.

Unfortunately, trying to get answers from SEPTA is like pulling teeth from a diabetic cheetah.  Emails to them either go unanswered, or answers come back several days later.  Their Twitter feed is also a joke--SEPTA only makes occasional announcements there and makes NO effort whatsoever to engage their customers in meaningful dialogue over Twitter. (And a quick search of Twitter reveals that yes, there are lots of complaints about SEPTA) SEPTA just doesn't get social media.

And that lack of communication is the real killer. Standing around at the station for uptwards of half an hour some days, wondering where the train is, with no announcements from SEPTA (and the lady behind the ticket counter, while nice, isn't a huge help either. She seems to suffer from the same lack of information that we do.) is driving us all a little crazier.

So, what do I have to do get SEPTA to stop ignoring us?  I can think of a couple of ideas, but they're kinda drastic:

  • Since I use a credit card to pay for my monthly passes, I could start hitting SEPTA with chargebacks.  At $127 each, I think that would get SEPTA's attention real quick.  My concern there is that they might try to ban me from riding the trains, which would then mean I'd have no way to get to work.
  • Even more drastic: the next time there's a delay, stand on the tracks and refuse to let trains pass until I can speak to a member of SEPTA's management team on the phone.  Unfortunately, it would also get me arrested, and that's something I could do without. Not to mention it would also piss off the other commuters. But it may be an option for someone who has less to lose and wants to make a statement.

Beyond that, I'm having a difficult time trying to think of ways to address the situation.  I've tried reaching out to SEPTA via Twitter and email numerous times, only to be ignored.  How do you resolve a situation when the other party has made it clear that they refuse to work with you?

If folks have any better ideas for trying to get SEPTA to at least be a little more communcative, I'm all ears.  Feel free to suggest 'em in the comments.

 

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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It's a mystery why they can't have a decent communications system.  Septa's Trainview system http://trainview.septa.org/ is only intermittently reliable, and if you don't happen to know your train number, not helpful (also if you don't have internet access wherever you go). The ticket seller is provided with no information and gets cranky when asked (also cranky when she has to interrupt her personal phone calls to sell tickets.)  

The public address announcements are ridiculous:  "Attention, passengers.  All trains are running behind schedule.  Expect delays."  Or sometimes you get the announcement of a five minute delay, followed by another five minute delay, followed by a twenty minute delay, followed by an announcement that that particular train has been "annulled."  From Center City it has now apparently become quite common for the express trains to be running late, which results in the abrupt cancellation of the local to  Bryn Mawr.  

I really think they don't KNOW how to do it right.  

 

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dmuth's picture
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FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT.

I checked Train View before leaving home this morning, and it said the 7:39 train was on schedule.

I find it hard to believe that everything magically went to hell in the 6 minute walk to Ardmore's train station.

I really think they don't KNOW how to do it right.   

Then I think it's time to shake up SEPTA management.  As someone who works in the private sector, all jobs come down to: "Perform, or GTFO."  And if SEPTA management can't run the company right, then they need to be shown the door.

 

 

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ch1nish's picture
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Get over it.  They know what they're doing.  Quit pissing.  

The Thorndale line is unpredictable cause A) A bunch of wealthy complaining yuppies live there and B) The amtrak infastructure SEPTA deals with everyday, is old and not well managed.  This is an amtrak issue.  Not SEPTA.  I applaud SEPTA for dealing with amtrak.  amtrak doesn't fix anything.  I live on the Lansdale/Doylestown line and that train is ALWAYS on time.  Much nicer area too.  And it's SEPTA's right of way.  SEPTA is fine.  The PEOPLE who ride and complain.....  They are the ones who are fucked.  That's the difference

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justcurious's picture
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The good news is there's also an iPhone app called Trainboard that's different, I think, from Trainview.  The bad news is that it's not very reliable either.

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ch1nish's picture
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TrainView works Perfect.  But you can't anticipate when amtrak's infrastructure will cause issues.  it usually does.  Get over it.  Move somewhere else.

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ch1nish's picture
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They know how to do it right.  It works fine. You're the problem.  The passanger is always the problem.

 

Amtrak's infrastructure is neglected and they don' run a decent system.  SEPTA's lines are perfect.  The ones that SEPTA shares with amtrak have issues sometimes.  Those are amtrak's problem.  Not SEPTA.

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Orangecat's picture
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Not sure if you are just a Troll, a SEPTA employee, or what, but you are just nasty either way.  Sick

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carla's picture
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Nightmare in Wayne for Regional Rail riders
February 2, 2011
By Matt Golas
For PlanPhilly

Last week we complimented SEPTA on it's on-time performance during a surprise snowstorm.

This week we take out the paddle.

When SEPTA faces a scenario of ice, sleet, rain and some snow overnight, regular commuters are not surprised by delays on Regional Rail lines. They understand what the authority is dealing with. But Wednesday morning SEPTA could have mitigated the problems - at least in Wayne - by using some basic good sense.

The platforms at the Wayne Station were a solid sheet of ice from 7 a.m. until 9:50 a.m. I know. I was there. No salt was applied and passengers shuffled and slid as they positioned themselves for the next train. Usually the station master salts down the platforms. Not today. But what was really odd was the SEPTA maintenance vehicle double parked in front of the station. It was blocking the pedestrian entrances and there were two employees in weather related garb in the truck. Did they try to de-ice the "runways"? Nope. And get this. Every 15 minutes a public service announcement would broadcast that SEPTA trains were delayed because of weather and the authority's first concern was the safety of passengers.

Actually, judging from the parking lot the authority was really concerned with illegal parking. Although the permit lot was less than half full, a SEPTA consultant was busy writing tickets to scofflaws. This was a perfect day to give that fellow a bucket of salt and a scoop.

The last issue. SEPTA should figure out where its trains are. The station master told me he had not received a call from his boss monitoring the Thorndale-Paoli Line. Just as he finished his sentence the phone rang and guess who it was? The guy monitoring the trains on the line. He told the Wayne Station Master he knew less about the whereabouts of the trains than the station master! And Trainview was not accurate, at least for the Thorndale to Center City trains.

I will note for the record, that part of Haverford Train Station is dangerously icy - one of SEPTA's sidewalks - right next to the street was so icy today people were grabbing the railing and holding their breath. And to get the snow mountains moved I had to contact the Government Affairs people because in the ticket office they just sort of looked at me when I asked when they were planning to move snow muntains off the sidewalks recently.

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ch1nish's picture
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Leave the government affairs people alone.  They have better things to do than listen to people moan.  They're doing their best.  You shouldn't even have that info.  I'll make sure they change their contacts.

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ch1nish's picture
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Allright, let's clear some things up.  One, Stop pissing.  You people piss about everything.  SEPTA runs perfect.  Amtrak is the troublemaker.  They don't maintain any of their crappy infastructure, and their equipment is neglected and poorly made.

 

Two, SEPTA does fine The only reason it's late is cause Amtrak makes them late.  So learn how to read a schedule and be prepared for a bit late train in the winter time sometimes since amtrak always causes issues on that line.  GET OVER YOURSELVES PEOPLE.  SEPTA is quiet and thats a great business practice.  You should go stand on the tracks.  That's a wonderful idea.  One less annoying complaining person around.  

They try their hardest.  They shovel their stations.   They have 190 something stations to manage.  Give them a damn break.  Don't ride if you don't like it.  Bring a shovel next time and help out, rather than piss and moan.

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carla's picture
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ch1nish - are you threatening us? Really? I will be sending this along to the Government Affairs person I work with on things because you know what? You could not be anymore incorrect - she likes hearing from the public and will tell you so if you call her.

AMTRAK is a problem and people don't let AMTRAK off the hook. As for the wealthy complaining yuppies comment? Good lord, they don't take the train. It's just us regular folks.

I think you are a Septa employee and I think as someone who has seen dead bodies on tracks that you are quite simply sick to suggest that other human beings should do that

I will be forwarding this thread to SEPTA incidentally.

If you want to take part on this blog fine, but you need to dial it back. We don't always agree up here, but your tone and implied threats are something else entirely.

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ch1nish's picture
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I'm not a SEPTA employee. (Capitalize SEPTA. Its an acronym. Not a word. ). I dot work for them. I enjoy my ride everyday and I am just tired of peole complaining. Especially the yuppies up your way. I doubt SEPTA cares what I say. Im defending them cause I know they try their damn hardest and they run a hell lf a service. Lets face it. We would moss them if they went away. So just ride and be lucky you have a transit system as great as SEPTA. I have two neighbors that are conductors and boy do they have the stoeies. How would you feel if you were them? You'd be a little irritated too. Dumb people bugging you all day and complain about stuff that isn't the authority's problem. Just be quiet and Go away.

Like I said, it's an Amtrak issue. Not a SEPTA issue. Bring a shovel.

I have a right to express my opinion. This is a free country.

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dmuth's picture
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I'm sure there are bad customers.  I feel badly for any employee who has to deal with them.

That said, as I stated above, there is room for improvement from SEPTA, especially when it comes to communication.  Sitting in a station or standing on a platform in the middle of winter for half an hour with no announcements or wrong annoucements is not okay.  It's not okay if airlines do it, and it's not okay if SEPTA does it either.

I find your comment about "yuppies" interesting, since I think a lot of us here are older than you seem to think we are.

I have a right to express my opinion. This is a free country.

Of course you do. However, the courts have also consistently ruled that while you have a consitutional right to say whatever you want, you are not guranteed a venue in which to say it.  Hence my warning to you a few posts back to tone the rhetoric down. I won't tolerate abusive/harassing behavior toward other members of this site.

 

 

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carla's picture
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It's not just an AMTRAK issue... and it's pretty funny when someone tells you that they have a right to express their opinions but we are just supposed to shut up and take it.  Too funny.  

IMHO people who pay good mney to ride public transit should be able to ask the conductors questions and if the conductors you know don't like interacting with the public and that is part of their job, well that's a problem isn't it?

And actually, your comments were passed along to SEPTA and they are interested in what you have to say.  Just like they are interested in what the rest of us have to say.

 

See ya

 

 

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ch1nish's picture
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Great. I could care less that you passed along what I said to the authority. I'm sure they will be happy to hear someone defending an complimentin them rather than complaining. People complain too much.

I can't tell you how little I care that you passed it on to them. SEPTA doesn't give a damn what this little dinky site has to say. Their job is to move the region. Not interfere with what people have to say. Even though I'm correct.

I'm done posting here. Say whatever you want. I made my point. SEPTA knows they do a fine job. maybe you should appreciate them a little more. Talk to Amtrak.
Bye, people!

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ch1nish's picture
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They could care less what you have to say

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carla's picture
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They could care less what you have to say

...actually I think you are wrong.

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dmuth's picture
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Hello ch1nish,

I can see you're new here.  I think it would be a good idea you toned down the rhetoric a little, and treated others here with just a little more respect.

Making comments like, "get over it" and "you're the problem" are neither helpful nor productive in trying to address what are very real problems faced by thousands of people who use SEPTA each day.

If you have solutions to the mass transit problem, feel free to share them.

Thanks.

 

 

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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S/he must work for SEPTA, where the "passanger" is always the problem.

 

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ch1nish's picture
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Sorry to be rude but I have heard every angle of every story. Believe me, SEPTA is trying their hardest. just be patient. It's a great system. Be happy you have one.

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So government run SEPTA is perfect and the taxpayers who pay for its existence are always wrong.

Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, from most government employees.

There is a saying in the free market - the customer is always right.

With government run enterprises, the saying is the opposite - the customer is always wrong.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Politeia:  You must talk to my credit card companies, they don't seem to have caught on to your free market saying.  Neither has Haliburton, BP or Goldman Sachs for that matter.  Alas, reality does not seem to go hand in hand with free market doctrnine nowadays.

The simple fact is that if you want a service based on infrastructure, you have to pay for it, like you do roads.  If we invested as much in public transportation as we do in highways, we would have a much better system.  We don't and so we don't.  I agree, SEPTA is horribly managed, but I also agree they don't have much to work with.  And if you are going to starve infrastructure as the state and federal government plans to do, don't expect service to get any better, anywhere, expect it to get worse.  You get what you pay for.

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politeia's picture
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Are there companies out there that don't offer good customer service?

Sure. So you shop around with the multitude of choices the free market provides. I have responsive providers for my everyday needs like insurance, banking, credit cards, etc.

As for Goldman Sachs, Halliburton and their ilk - do you read my posts?

You know I despise corporations that feed at the government trough and distort the free market through regulatory capture where the government helps them dominate the marketplace, thus harming competition, job creation, customer service and in turn driving prices up due to lack of competition.

I make a point of using smaller companies for my financial/medical/personal needs that are not in bed with government and I receive excellent service, so perhaps you should shop around because the free market is not like government monopolies and allows you to do so.

And what has allowed Goldman, Halliburton et. al. to get away with what they do? Being in bed with government.

I would think you would have learned by now to think a little instead of repeating talking points when responding to my posts, bubba.

As for SEPTA, I have not used it in years. I stand by my general comment on government.

When you have a government monopoly and people don’t have a choice and service is bad - the only thing you can do is complain. Now whether that should be to SEPTA or our elected representatives or both, the only option you have is to complain.

In the free market, no need to complain. Just move on to a competitor that will provide you with better service.

That’s my point to the new poster on this blog thread who is getting on people for complaining about SEPTA. What choice do they have but to complain? Their taxes subsidize the service that they still have to pay to use and if you can’t afford a car, they have no other option so the only route is to complain.

Now, for those who can afford a car or to pay for parking in Philly, perhaps you should show SEPTA how it is the free market way and stop using their service?

And don’t get me wrong. I believe SEPTA provides a valuable service. There is also no doubt in my mind it is not run as efficiently as it could be as it is a bureaucratic monstrosity with no direct competition.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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bubbahotep's picture
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When you post your government = bad; private sector good talking points, I don't need to think much.  Anyway, I do an excellent job of teasing out your view from your talking points.  As you are willing to admit, some corporations are bad, though I would take issue that the government is somehow responsible for that.  My problem with your free market analysis is not every resourse is like a mom and pop operation, you can't always go somewhere else.  If you don't like Comcast, you can go to Verizon and get just as sucky service and they know it.

I stand by point, Septa sucks because it is as poorly funded as it is badly run.  If you can find a private sector operation that can step in and provide a regional rail service, I would love to hear about it.  They tried that in England and by all accounts I have heard from people that live there, it sucks.  Riding the rails in Germany is a pleasure because it is a well funded system and well run...by the government.

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politeia's picture
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Yep, you can go from terrible service with Comcast to terrible service with Verizon - both former government monopolies that still have a stranglehold because the free market was never allowed to operate in the first place.

You have to stop looking at me as all or nothing, bubba - and read my posts.

Sure, some corporations who are not in bed with the government provide terrible service. Since they are not in bed with the government, they can’t keep their competition at bay via regulatory capture and that terrible service will catch up to them as competitors use that to their competitive advantage. That’s how the free market works - or do you believe the government should regulate service levels for all private businesses?

I have never posted the free market is a panacea. However, I will always take it over the government. If government is the only answer, than just come out and say you are for socialism. While I disagree with socialism, I'd respect someone more if they admitted they were a socialist as opposed to acting like one yet denying it - while blaming everything in the country on businesses and the free market.

You know my view. The biggest economic problems in this country are caused by big business being in bed with government.

If you want to deny that lobbyists, special interest pandering, regulatory capture, crony capitalism and corporatism exist, then be my guest.

That's the difference between you and me, bubba. I'll admit where my positions are not perfect and alternatives should be considered -and perhaps it is a government alternative.

You seem to believe that government can do no wrong and that lobbyists, special interest pandering, regulatory capture, crony capitalism and corporatism don't exist.

I guess your position could be that big corporations would be just as "bad" or worse without government involvement/interference. I believe that if there was true competition it would level the playing field and corporations would behave better - but that's not to say some regulation is not needed, and that's how I am not all or nothing and take what I consider a reasonable view.

Interesting how I can look at corporate giants that dominated their market share who never ate much at the government trough, and they are or were good corporate citizens. How can this be? Perhaps they were not in bed with government and thus involved in dirty tricks, but rather believed that the best way to maintain market share was the free market way - by providing innovative products at a competitive price with excellent service and very good working conditions while being good corporate citizens.

Xerox, Kodak, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Apple are just a few corporate giants that come to mind. They dominate or dominated their market share. Being big is not bad if you do it the free market way by again providing innovative products at a competitive price with good working conditions and customer service while being good corporate citizens. That’s how you keep competition at bay the free market way if you have been able to dominate market share like these companies do and did.

Now here is my challenge to you, bubba. Name the big corporations that you think are bad corporate citizens. Let's see a list, and let’s see if there are any on the list that don't feed bigtime at the government trough via crony capitalism by lobbying the government bigtime in order to gain regulatory capture and dominate market share by being in bed with government.

I can think of one corporate giant that does not feed much at the government trough that is a bad corporate citizen off the top of my head, but most corporate giants that I don’t like and I believe are bad corporate citizens are in bed with government.

So let’s see your list. Don’t bother with whether they are in bed with government or not. We’ll figure that out later. Name a couple big corporations you feel are bad corporate citizens and explain why.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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