July 29: Philly’s bad drivers, less driving | SEPTA’s temporary captial budget | Rittenhouse mallification | Schuylkill Banks tower | Waterfront Square sales | a new March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Welcome to the working week, Streeters. We hope you didn’t get swept away in yesterday’s record-setting eight inches of rain. Fortunately the flooding rain is behind us and we’re looking forward to a beautiful Monday.

Philly has the second worst drivers in the nation, according to data pulled together by Slate. The fortunate news may be that our love affair with our cars could be waning: The Inquirer reports that indicators like new drivers licenses and vehicle-miles traveled are going down as gas prices, and the cost of owning vehicles are rising. Add to that environmental concerns and increasingly urbanizing populations and a spike nationally in transit ridership.

And while we may be happy about more transit ridership, that’s a mixed blessing for SEPTA. SEPTA passed another temporary, bare-bones capital budget, hoping to get the agency through the next six months as repair costs and ridership continue to mount. “At a time when we are experiencing record ridership, we do not have the resources to preserve the current system – let alone growing it to attract even more riders,” said SEPTA general manager Joe Casey.The Inquirer reports that the $308 million capital budget is far less than SEPTA needs and will only cover federally mandated updates and required vehicle replacements, making SEPTA unable to start confronting $5 billion in “state of good repair” projects that simply keep being pushed off. The state legislature recessed without agreeing on a transportation-funding plan, and is likely to resume conversations on the subject in late September.

The mallification of Walnut Street west of Broad signals the strip’s real estate strength, but is Walnut Street a victim of its own success? And might that be a boon for other shopping strips? The Inquirer reports on these shifts on Rittenhouse retail shifts: Local retailers like Joan Shepp and Addresse are relocating because of high rents. Will a Bloomingdales or Nordstrom Rack open? Will Anthropologie stay at 18th and Walnut? Can Philly sustain a wave of new, swank retail?

Will Inga Saffron’s tomato plants fry in the reflections of a proposed tower on Schuylkill Banks? In her most recent column, Inga applauds the still-preliminary concept of a delicate sliver of a tower proposed by developer Carl Dranoff at Locust and 25th streets, adjacent to the Schuylkill Banks trail and Schuylkill River Park’s dog run, community garden, and playground. While the tower has the potential to set a new standard for urbane waterfront development, the still-TBD material choices, blank ground floor, and garage pose serious design problems.

Meanwhile on the Delaware: After a foreclosure condo sales are picking up in the third of three Waterfront Square’s towers, just north of Penn’s Landing’s Festival Pier. The Inquirer caught up with David Grasso, who was appointed receiver by the project’s lender in 2011, and reports that the Reef tower is averaging four unit sales per month appealing to first-time owners and suburbanites making the shift to city life. Just 60 more units to go.

Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis were among the black leaders who gathered in Philadelphia for this year’s National Urban League conference last week. The Inquirer reports that Friday’s panelists reflected on the 50 years since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and called for another march on August 24 to demand the prioritization of jobs, better education, and voter rights.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along. | Follow us on Twitter @EOTSPhilly | Like us on Facebook | Share your Philly photos in our Flickr Group

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