December 14: State senator floats PPA privatization | Upgrading SEPTA trolleys | Rendell endorses energy hub

PA Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre County) wants to privatize the Philadelphia Parking Authority, reports Christine Baker. There are no specifics yet, but “[i]n an email sent to fellow senators, Corman said a privately operated parking authority would “become a much more valuable asset to the public and the Philadelphia School District by having the authority’s commercial practices run by an actual business operator.”

Jason Laughlin has an update on SEPTA’s trolley modernization efforts in West Philly–a sleeper issue with the potential to vastly improve transit service between West Philly and Center City in the next five or so years. “The future, SEPTA officials said, could include fewer trolley stops, passenger shelters at many stops, and the fleet of new cars. Bigger, faster, and more accessible, new trolley cars would carry up to 100 people comfortably, compared with today’s 75-person capacity, officials said.” For more background, read Jim Saksa’s piece on this from April. 

Philly’s UberBlack drivers say the lower-cost UberX service is hurting their business, reports Jane Von Bergen, and they’re planning a protest this Wednesday at City Hall. It’s still unclear whether the state budget will include amendments to the Administrative Code legalizing ride-hailing services like Uber X and Lyft in Philadelphia. 

Ed Rendell thinks there can be enough room at Southport for both an energy port and a container port, with some new infrastructure. “Containers need property directly on the river to dock the ships and stack the containers; an energy port does not need the same space, as it would use land for its tank farm that is close to rail and the proposed pipeline infrastructure the port would need.”

Drinking and driving is down among younger drivers, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Mike McPhate at the New York Times highlights the fact that “vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people. In 2013, more than 2,000 people between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed on American roads — or about six a day, according to the C.D.C.

For several years now, downtown Easton, PA has been living the dream that most small PA cities and boroughs have for their city centers. Developers have been steadily rehabbing the city’s historic downtown buildings, putting properties once considered white elephants back into productive use. Bill Laundauer talks with Mark Mulligan–developer of the long-vexed Pomeroy’s building–Mayor Sal Panto, and national real estate expert Christopher Leinberger about the city’s turnaround. 

The New Jersey state legislature will soon vote on whether to allow two new casinos in Northern New Jersey, Wayne Parry reports. This is worth watching here in Pennsylvania because the New York City market drives a lot of the demand for southeastern PA’s casinos, with implications for state and local budgets. 
 

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