This just in from SEPTA

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

The SEPTA board heard from a group of Jenkintown residents concerned about the authority’s plan to build a parking garage in their community at its July board meeting on Thursday.

Bridgette Chadwick, representing a group of residents north of the city, asked SEPTA to consider increased bus service to the communities around Jenkintown to reduce the number of people who drove to the Jenkintown train station as part of their commute into the city.

The authority’s plan to build a parking garage to provide more parking for commuters has ignited controversy among residents who fear increased congestion. The station is the busiest the authority has in the suburbs and is served by three regional rail lines, which provides riders more frequent service to Center City than those at other stations.

Chadwick asked the authority to provide permit parking at the lot for residents who live within a 2-mile radius of the station but to assess fees to riders who drive from farther away. She also asked the authority to increase peak-hour bus service in the area along routes that bring commuters to Jenkintown and other area regional rail stations. Her group wants SEPTA to post bus schedules and SEPTA maps at regional rail stations and public gathering places to encourage commuters to take advantage of the services.

The board also heard from CFO and treasurer Rich Burnfield, who reported that total ridership was up by 4.4 million trips, or 1 percent, for fiscal year 2009, which ended 2009. He said that city transit ridership was up 2 percent, and suburban transit was up by 1 percent. A total of 329.6 million trips were recorded.

This marks the third year in a row that SEPTA ridership has increased, though SEPTA saw the effects of the economic downturn last quarter, with ridership down 2 percent compared with the previous year.

Final financial figures for fiscal year 2009 aren’t yet available, but Burnfield said that the authority had finished the year with a surplus.
General manager Joe Casey also discussed groundbreaking plans for projects funded by federal stimulus money. The reconstruction of the Girard and Spring Garden stations of the Broad Street Subway will begin Aug. 12 with a formal groundbreaking. Improvements to the Fox Chase regional rail station are scheduled to begin in September.

A groundbreaking was held at the Croyden station in June.

The board also approved a series of contracts. Among them:

It allocated about $7.7 million for a 30-month contract to GFI/Genfare Inc. to upgrade existing fareboxes on board buses and trolley. The upgrades will support the new payment technology project and are scheduled to start Sept. 1.

It approved a four year $4.7 million contract to buy trans- and trailpasses from Magnetic Ticket & Label Corp.
The board authorized the $625,000 purchase of a parcel of land owned by Lucy F. Phillips for the expansion of the Philmont station’s parking lot along the R3 West Trenton line.

It approved two contract changes totaling $115,887 for work for the Market-Frankford El reconstruction project.

The board also approved a series of route changes. Among them:
Route 89, which serves Port Richmond, will be extended on a trial basis to the new Aramingo Crossings Shopping Center.
Route 314 will now serve Bradford Plaza, a West Chester senior citizens center and business center. The change was proposed by the Chester County Planning Commission and will be subsidized by Chester County.

The authority will also open for public comment a new route proposed by Councilwoman Marian Tasco that would link Cedarbrook Mall and the Frankford Transportation Center.

This is the last of the SEPTA board’s public meetings of the summer. It canceled its August meeting and will reconvene in September.

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