July 5: Silverliner V reactions | Bike commuting from the burbs | Universal housing vouchers

Reactions to SEPTA’s Silverliner V woes continue to roll in this morning. Emily Babay and Mari Schaefer hit the regional rail stations this morning to talk with frustrated commuters, some of whom hadn’t heard about the service disruptions. “The announcement that 120 Silverliner V cars would be pulled came over the Fourth of July weekend, when many riders were perhaps not paying close attention to the news.” Philly.com also has a helpful diagram showing car parts in question.

A post at the Systemic Failure blog points a finger at ‘Buy America’ rules as one cause of the Silverliner V mess, arguing that if SEPTA were allowed to buy trainsets off the shelf with a proven record in other countries, we could have avoided this headache. “There is a large worldwide market for commuter trains. They come with competitive prices and reliable service histories. But instead of using any of those proven designs, SEPTA wanted trains built locally, and designed to an obsolete government spec.”

On Twitter, Sandy Johnson catches a report from Denver that says while the SEPTA’s Silverliner V is similar to commuter trains used by Denver’s Regional Transportation District, SEPTA’s trains are 5,000 pounds heavier due to the requirement that they accommodate two levels of boarding platforms. Transit reformers inside and outside SEPTA have been advocating for the agency to install level boarding platforms at all regional rail stations, but SEPTA does not have the capital budget necessary to do this any time soon, and it would be easier on some lines than others

Sarah Clark Stuart has a run-down of the bike commuting options for regional rail riders while SEPTA’s contingency schedule is in effect.

Jake Blumgart makes the case that housing vouchers should be universal, and operate like an entitlement similar to SNAP, as opposed to the more limited waitlist approach in effect now. Daniel Kay Hertz at City Observatory has argued previously that this would be affordable if the federal mortgage interest deduction were curtailed for high earners. 

The Schuylkill Action Network and Hidden City editor Brad Maule teamed up to map trash deposits on the Schuylkill River during the annual Schuylkill Sojourn.

There’s still no agreement between the Wolf administration and legislative Republicans on how to pay for the state budget, reports Katie Meyer, which is exactly where negotiations got stuck last year. 

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