SEPTA Strike Over

150px-SEPTA_text.svgBy: Billy BeerSlugger

So now that the SEPTA strike is over with Transportation Workers Union 234, expect an increase in fare’s soon.  SEPTA has stated that it was going to increase fare’s in 2010 just as it did in 2007.  How much you ask?  From what this article says about 10% increase in revenue for the fiscal year of 2011.

I guess we kind of knew that was going to happen though.  SEPTA Union workers strike, they get a raise, both sides make some concessions and ultimately they pass the buck onto the consumer.  Nevermind a portion of your tax money goes to SEPTA whether you use it or not, that’s besides the point.

So now for some thoughts, suggestions and wishful thinking:

1) How about 24 hour Weekend Service for subways and Regional Rail even at a limited schedule?

How much better would it be if you could get from Point A to Point B in Philadelphia after Midnight without having to take a cab, walk 100 blocks or ride a bike?  Insanely great!

How much more business would city bars and restaurants get from the outlying counties if there was even one train on every regional rail that took people home from the city say at 2:40am after the bars closed and giving people ample time to get to Market East, Suburban or 30th St Stations? I can’t tell you how many good times were abruptly averted by friends visiting who had to leave at 11:30 to make sure they got the last train home to Delco/Montco?  How many trips to the city were never had by people who don’t want to drive to the city because they would be drinking and don’t want to leave at 12pm to get the last train?

Give the people a reasonable way to get to and from Philadelphia to drink and be merry without having to drive or worry about getting home and you will see a city ripe with fresh faces on the weekends. I guarantee that.

2) How about a freaking rechargeable transit pass like every other city with a subway system has.  How about being able to pay with your credit/debit card at every station and or ticket/token dispenser?

Granted these things will cost money. Money to staff subways with police officers, money to pay the money hungry SEPTA employees who no doubt would welcome this as overtime.  I don’t know but if New York can do it and we’re pretty much New York’s J.V. team then I’m sure sooner or later we could pull this off.

SEPTA Super Sneaky Strike

150px-SEPTA_text.svgBy: Billy BeerSlugger

It was great of SEPTA’s TWU 234 workers to strike yesterday leaving hundreds of thousands of Philadelphian’s not only without a ride to work, school, doctors appointments etc, but also without leaving them with the proper amount of time to plan for alternate transportation. They struck at 3am in the morning so that it wouldn’t be announced on the 10 or 11 o’clock news or splashed on the front page of news sites before Philadelphian’s went to bed.  Which if you’re really trying to piss people off you’re going to sneak attack strike. Not only that but Tuesday, the day the strike began was an Election day.

Not that I don’t give the TWU a little bit of credit for sticking through the Philadelphia end of the World Series but not to inform your ridership at least the night before is downright dastardly. These people have jobs, scholastic careers and other necessary staples of life to attend to that count on SEPTA to get there. I’d love to see the attendance numbers for the thousands of Philadelphia school aged children that need a bus, subway or trolley to get to school.  These kids probably love the SEPTA strike because it effectively gives them a get out of school free card today. It’s hard enough to get these kids to go to school as it is without having them walk 4 miles. Lost in the news coverage is the kids who take SEPTA to school and as I always say to my friend who bangs a married chick with kids, “Think about the children.”.

Anyway, I’m not completely against Union’s.  My mom was a 30+ year member of the Communications Workers of America, my uncle is a high ranking SEPTA union leader though not the Union that’s striking (as there are 3 unions that serve SEPTA).  However, this is really a case of a Union holding a city hostage.  When my mom’s union went to the picket line you could at least still make phone calls. It’s pretty customary as well for the people that are striking to show up to a picket line in protest but these lazy sons of bitches, for the most part, are home watching cartoons. Though I did see a story that there was a picket line in front of the Fern Rock station.  Obviously they wouldn’t picket anywhere in Center City for fear of being heckled and laughed at.

Per a Union worker in this article

“We’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t,” said Harris. “The riding public is not educated on what we’re fighting for. Why should we work under stressful conditions without getting paid for it?”

Well sir, you are getting paid, maybe just not as much as you’d like to.  As for the stress of a job, join the club.  Without marginalizing the efforts of the workers who really do make SEPTA run, what about those workers in the subways averaging $53,000 a year to take $2 and press a button.  I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on anyone.

Governor Rendell said the five-year contract spurned by TWU leaders called for a $1,250 signing bonus upon ratification, a 2.5 percent raise the second year, and a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years.  It also called for an increase in pension payments to workers and no increase in their health-insurance contributions.

SEPTA Cashiers

SEPTA TrainBy: Robby Ripchord

We here at apologize for the lack of posts lately.  You see the Phillies are in the midst of a World Series defense and we have been drinking heavily, waking up late and generally calling out of work for no good reason.

That being said, I was out last Wednesday for the Phillies NLCS clincher against the Dodgers. Eventually a group of friends and I made our way to Center City to celebrate with the masses, bag o’ beers in tow. That’s not what this article is about though.

As I awoke in a strange place, multi-colored polka-dot sheets, a room filled with women’s clothing, I realized i was not at my house. A quick survey of the situation placed me in Manayunk. Great, I don’t live in Manayunk and i obviously did not drive there. So here I am forced to take two different forms of SEPTA transportation back to my domicile.

I have a over-priced crappy omelet at the Manayunk Diner which is situated close to the train station and make my way up the rotting concrete and steel stairs.  Before I left I had picked up the latest copy of Philadelphia Weekly and read a great article about SEPTA attendants while I sprawled out like a homeless man on the train station bench.

I always wondered what the SEPTA cashiers in the Subways actually did since, as the article points out and I realized from personal experience, that:

  1. They cannot give change.
  2. Most do not sell tokens, at least not all day.

Effectively their job is to take two dollars per rider and press a button.  Occasionally they are supposed to help elderly and handicapped individuals get onto platforms and trains.

What I didn’t know is that these same people I see napping inside their booth’s or just plain not there at all are paid $55,000 a year on average.  All of the 346 full time cashiers on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines are from the medically disqualified pool.  So really if you get hurt/sick on or off the job then you get a cushy job collecting dollar bills and pressing a button for $55,000 a year.

Which would be fine with me except that much of the SEPTA budget is funded by Federal, State and local subsidy’s. So taxpayers are mostly paying for these people to sit on their brains all day.  Further, every year or two SEPTA threatens to strike wanting better pay and better benefits.  Which is exactly the beauty of unionized labor and government jobs, there’s always a few people that get to sit around and do absolutely nothing to collect a sizable paycheck, have little to no work stress besides showing up and even that is debatable.

Sometimes I’ll be on the Subway and there won’t even be a person in the booth to take my $2. Further they don’t have token machines at every stop.  So what is a person to do when a train is coming? Not only is SEPTA losing money by overpaying a person who effectively does the job of George Jetson but it’s also losing money from people who want to pay their fare but have to hop over the turnstile instead.

God forbid we upgrade our outdated token system with a card system like New York or Washington D.C.! Technology which has been employed in these cities since at least 1995. But that’s neither here nor there.  Your suggestions and good ideas will be promptly ignored by the SEPTA officials that are taking your tax money to run their Transit Authority.

PS: Thanks to the nice lady who gave me a quarter to take the Market Frankford line home Thursday.  I had exact change for two tokens ($2.90) and put a dollar bill and my change into the token machine only to find out that nickels and dimes were not accepted. Then i tried to get my money back and it only gave me the change and not the dollar.  So I was left ten cents short of the requisite for a single trip and 25 cents short of the requisite $2.90 for two tokens.  Good people are hard to come by in a Subway and salutes you anonymous subway lady.  Had it not been for you I would have had to walk my hungover ass home.