2016 Rewind: Top 10 most-read stories

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We’re taking the last week of the year to do our morning roundups a little differently. We’re looking back at the year that was through our stories. Today we’ll revisit the 10 most-read stories we published in 2016.

1. SEPTA union preparing for potential strike November 1 that could last through Election Day (October 2016)

In October, PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa was first to report that a SEPTA strike was authorized and looking likely. Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 President Willie Brown characterized negotiations, which began in July, this way: “Listen: We can’t even agree on a hotel to do the negotiations at. That’s how the negotiations are going. They’re not moving at all.”

2. What if SEPTA had a better bus map? A rider tried making one. (January 2016)

Thomson Kao created an unofficial version of SEPTA’s bus map prioritizing frequent service. The map treats all modes the same, and shows routes where headways between vehicles are under 12 minutes on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thicker lines show routes where buses or trains come at least every 10 minutes, if not faster. For Kao the purpose was utility as well as discovery. “How can we discover other parts of the transit network that we’re not familiar with?”

3. What’s this SEPTA bus stop doing on the roof of 1529 Walnut (April 2016)

In April a reader spotted a bus stop for SEPTA Routes 2, 9, 12, 21, and 42 on top of 1529 Walnut Street. Surreal? Yep. But we got an answer: It was in the way of a delivery to the property under construction. So the contractors moved the stop to the roof temporarily and bolted it in place for safekeeping.

4. Philadelphia’s getting new protected bike lanes. Here’s where. (April 2016)

When $300,000 in federal Transportation Alternative Program funds were allocated to support the creation of new protected bike lanes in Philly, we cruised through the supported projects and just what “protected” means. Protected, in our case, translates to flexible plastic delineator posts that help physically separate automobile and bicycle traffic, but can be spaced to accommodate certain curbside needs.

5. Revealed: Blatstein’s designs for Broad and Washington (February 2016)

When renderings dropped for Bart Blatstein’s planned block-sized development at the northeast corner of Broad and Washington, including a rooftop retail village. We followed the project through Civic Design Review, until its zoning stalled out in Council.  

6. Parking rules questioned at City Council budget hearing (April 2016)

“Everybody’s not going to ride the train, everybody’s not going to take public transit. This is Philadelphia. People drive to the corner store. This is what we do,” said Council President Darrell Clarke, taking budget hearings as a chance to question the Planning Commission about parking requirements for new developments.

7. 30th Street Station District draft plan to reopen SEPTA tunnel by 2020, cap rail yards by 2050 (March 2016)

We took a long look at the draft plan for a new 30th Street Station District, released in March. This plan, taken together with plans for Schuylkill Yards, lays out a roadmap for dramatically increasing property values in the area surrounding the station’s rail yards over the next 15 to 20 years. At the same time, Drexel and Brandywine have committed to developing Schuylkill Yards inclusively, without “disrupting the fabric of [the surrounding] neighborhoods.” 

8. Finding Stonehouse Lane: South Philly’s lost neighborhood (September 2016)

Stonehouse Lane was an unusual settlement of farmers and squatters living in semi-rural conditions in deepest South Philly that hung on until the 1950s, even as the rest of the city modernized. Jake Blumgart looked back at the forgotten neighborhood that was Stonehouse Lane with a little help from historic photos in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin archives. 

9. SEPTA strike negotiations take turn for the worse, SEPTA beyond frustrated with union (November 2016)

Contract negotiations had been progressing between Transport Workers Union Local 234 and SEPTA, but seemed to fall apart at one point mid-strike. SEPTA Chairman Pasquale Deon Sr. accused the union of negotiating in bad faith. SEPTA’s Fran Kelly said the agency was “beyond frustrated” over the way negotiations were progressing. 

10. LOVE Park renovation breaks ground, skateboarding ban temporarily lifted (February 2016)

Before tearing up LOVE Park for renovations, the city lifted its ban on skateboarding in the plaza for a few final days, giving skaters one last chance at the legendary spot. [video]

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