August 14: The case for free transfers | Dilworth Plaza opens soon | Important bird area | Cheesesteak Vegas |

Los Angeles Metro recently eliminated their transfer charge. Riders can now transfer between rail and bus transit for free for two hours. Such a move appears to be off the table in negotiations over SEPTA’s New Payment Technology, but transportation consultant Jarrett Walker explains why the SEPTA policy is mistaken: “Charging passengers extra for the inconvenience of connections is insane. It discourages exactly the customer behavior that efficient and liberating networks depend on. It undermines the whole notion of a transit network. It also gives customers a reason to object to network redesigns that deliver both greater efficiency and greater liberty, because by imposing a connection on their trip it has also raised their fare.”

Dilworth plaza is on schedule to open in September and we’ll have a hard open date next week. The feature will include a “21 percent increase in useable area, resulting in a 120,557-square-foot public space with tree groves and space for benches and chairs … a new café, an ice rink for winter skating and free Wi-Fi…” and will upgrade the City Hall station with elevator access and “distinctive entrances.” Unfortunately, because of SEPTA budget restraints, the inside of the city’s busiest subway station will continue to look like, as Ryan Briggs put it, ” the abandoned version of the building in M.C. Escher’s Relativity.”

New park alert: East Park Reservoir, an abandoned city reservoir near Strawberry Mansion and “important bird area” that attracts around 150 species is being leased by three environmental groups who want to open it to the public for free for wildlife viewing. 

Paul Posner argues that the problem of fiscal disparities doesn’t get enough play in our equity debates. Low fiscal capacity resulting from fragmented municipal tax bases are an underappreciated problem across Pennsylvania, but even with a countywide tax base like Philadelphia, the issue still arises sometimes when BIDs are in the news, with some advocates wondering why some of the “special” services BIDs provide – like street cleaning and public trash cans – aren’t the baseline for the whole city. Rarely mentioned is the connection between our zoning choices and the health of our tax base.

The “sharing economy” is coming to the exciting world of municipal procurement. “Small and mid-sized cities struggle with acquiring, maintaining and paying for heavy equipment like trench diggers, street sweepers, tractors and backhoes. Rather than cities investing in such specialized equipment, MuniRent is developing an online marketplace for cities to rent bulky equipment from each other.”

And Pat’s King of Steaks is getting its own neon sign to rival Geno’s giant low-resolution chipped meat picture, reports Albert Stumm on Twitter. Eater Philly’s Carly Szkaradnik wins the Internet this week with the “Cheesesteak Vegas” coinage.

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