Regional Rail numbers will go away on July 25

March 3, 2010

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

SEPTA riders will be seeing new regional rail designations after all.

Despite some waffling by SEPTA officials over the past several weeks, communications director Elizabeth Mintz told a meeting of the Citizen Advisory Committee on Tuesday that the proposed change to line names was going forward as planned.

Starting July 25, the authority will rename the current regional rail lines after their terminus points.

In other words, the R8 will become the Chestnut Hill West and Fox Chase lines. Lines with two stations that frequently serve as end points will be named after both. Thus, the R5 Thorndale will become the Paoli/Thorndale line, the R5 Doylestown line will become the Landsdale/Doylestown line and the R2 Newark line will become the Wilmington/Newark line.

The only change to the current terminal designations will happen along the R6 Norristown line. That line will be renamed the Manayunk/Norristown line in recognition of the fact that Manayunk has become a popular destination for riders in recent years. The R3 Elwyn line will not be renamed the Media/Wawa line until the extension to Wawa has been completed.

To preserve information about service through the Center City tunnel, regional rail timetables will indicate the destination of any trains past Center City.

The change will coincide with a larger rebranding effort for regional rail, Mintz said, adding that she made a “hand on heart” promise to general manager Joe Casey that all references to regional rail throughout the system will be changed to reflect the new designations. That will involve changing signage and electronic monitors at all regional rail stations and on all vehicles.

SEPTA has begun a preliminary survey to track down all signs and maps that mention regional rail lines. The authority will also be replacing all the current regional rail colors with the blue-ish gray color seen on newly installed signs in Center City.

The change was prompted by efforts to standardize all modes of transit by the same color, Mintz said. It comes out of the same initiative in which SEPTA rebranded all of its trolley lines with a green hue several months ago. She added that not all of the details in the rollout have been worked out yet. The authority is still trying to figure out how to indicate through service to popular destinations like University City, Temple University and the Airport stops.

She stressed, though, that no service would be altered as a result of the rebranding. Riders will still be able to take advantage of existing through-service schedules even though the trains will change names in Center City.

As part of the rebranding, the authority will be making small changes to the schedules, which will now feature line maps on the front.

The real-time display boards at the Center City stations will also give the train numbers of arriving trains.

Mintz’s comments stood in stark contrast to SEPTA officials’ comments in the aftermath  of a presentation last month by Harry Garforth, manager of rail planning, to the CAC in which Garforth detailed the changes. When asked by reporters, SEPTA spokespeople repeatedly said that no final decision had been made. And speaking at another meeting of the CAC last month, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch suggested that a public hearing might be held to discuss the issue.

That appears not to be in the cards, however. Mintz firmly said that July 25 was a non-negotiable date. “It’s going to happen on July 25,” she said.

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