March 6: Fare vending machines for all SEPTA stations | Philly’s commute | OARC investigated, wants investigation | off-street parking, residential scourge | health care funding for PA poor ordered restored

Good morning, Streeters. It is a blustery day that promises to be topped with a couple of inches of snow in the city tonight– south and west of the city will see more. Is this winter’s last gasp? Fingers crossed. Here’s what else is making news this morning:

When SEPTA’s New Payment Technology (NPT) arrives later this year – the promised land of “smart cards” where tokens are extinct – stations will have the most modest and important upgrade: Each station on the Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Line will have a fare vending machines. PlanPhilly’s Christine Fisher reports that only 16 of the El’s 28 stations have machines and of the 22 along the Broad Street Line eight lack vending machines. Part of the problem has been SEPTA’s insufficient manpower to service these machines. But, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said “the new system won’t be as labor-intensive due to the fact that we won’t have to worry about transporting tokens around.”

New census data reveal that the average commute to work for a Philadelphia resident is 31.5 minutes and 25.6% of Philadelphia’s workforce uses public transit to commute, reports the Inquirer. The census also found that Philadelphia has more workers who commute into the city from across the region (253,000 people) than city residents who reverse commute to the suburbs (147,000 people).

A state investigation into the Ogontz Avenue Redevelopment Corporation (OARC), founded by State Rep. Dwight Evans, revealed mismanagement of $12 million in state grants since 2006, which was publicly exposed in a lengthy piece in Sunday’s Inquirer. Now, OARC is demanding an investigation into the leaked report detailing the state’s probe, NewsWorks reports.

Hidden City Daily’s Nathaniel Popkin takes on the scourge of off-street residential parking, so pervasive in his neighborhood of Bella Vista as elsewhere in South Philadelphia. He argues that the steady, entitled push by developers to install garages as the ground floor of rowhomes in recent decades has created dead-eyed houses that feel more like fortresses than contributors to the life of our residential streets. Popkin writes, “Why should taxpayers subsidize his bottom line when he is taking away one of our neighborhood amenities, public parking, and ultimately reducing the value of the neighborhood itself? It doesn’t have to work that way, for the buildings that are built there really should make our neighborhood more attractive, more lively, and more interesting.” 

A Pennsylvania judge has ordered Harrisburg to reinstate health care funding for thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians that had been stripped from adultBasic and Medicaid programs. Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled that it was unconstitutional to redirect money from the federal tobacco settlement to fund items other than health care in the state’s general budget. “I believe that this ruling should force Gov. Corbett and his administration to reconsider their ill-advised decision to refuse federal support for Medicaid expansion,” said State Treasurer Rob McCord.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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