Sometimes even the best intentions have controversial consequences.
Manayunk residents in the vicinity of Main and Rector streets were surprised to discover that a long-standing bus stop had recently been removed. They expressed concern that the process lacked any input from the community.
The bus stop in question is located at the entrance of the Manayunk Tavern. The Tavern has an outdoor café license allowing it to have tables and chairs on the sidewalk around its establishment. According to SEPTA spokesperson, Andrew Bush, the change of bus stop was made by the Manayunk Development Corporation.
“[SEPTA] looked at the route and found stops a block away on either side,” said Bush. “While I do not have the complete numbers, ridership was found to be low at this bus stop.”
One of the most surprised about the bus stop removal was Jane Lipton, MDC executive director.
The city ordinance dealing with sidewalk café seating states that seating is prohibited within 15 feet of a transit stop.
According to Lipton, the MDC was trying to find a solution over the bus stop between a resident and the Tavern. Lipton sent Howard Moseley, the MDC director of governmental relations and infrastructure, to investigate the resident’s complaints. According to Lipton, the resident wanted nothing less than the removal of all outdoor seating at Manayunk Tavern. This resolution was unacceptable to the business establishment.
“We asked that the bus stop be moved 177 feet, one block, down to Roxborough Ave,” said Lipton. “This [complete removal] is not what we asked for.”
In a letter written to SEPTA, the Manayunk Neighborhood Council expresses concern for the lack of transparency in the decision to change the bus stop.
“As a frequent bus rider, as a transit dependent person, and as a long time transit advocate, I do not accept the designation as a second class citizen. Nor does Manayunk Neighborhood Council, its members, nor do the residents of Manayunk,” said Smith. “We do not accept being shuffled around for the passing convenience of the Manayunk Tavern’s sidewalk tables and beer delivery trucks,” wrote MNC President Kevin Smith.
“We do not believe there is any justification for the removal of this stop and will advocate vigorously for its restoration,” he added.
Calls made to Smith were not returned at press time.
Lipton says that the MDC did nothing wrong and was merely following the rules laid out by SEPTA. Lipton said that the organization was working with Councilman Curtis Jones’ office to find an overall solution to the problem.
“We did not expect the system to work so quickly,” said Lipton. “There are tons and tons of options. We were trying not to hurt anybody. We absolutely do care about the quality of life for residents in this community.”
Michelle Wilson in Councilman Jones’ office said that the Councilman will be pursuing the issue at the next SEPTA Transportation Committee meeting.
“We are looking forward to a positive solution to this issue,” said Wilson.