Since the mid-1990's, SEPTA has been obsessed with the construction of "mega stations" based on the park-and-ride approach to commuter rail. This model is a striking departure from the model given to SEPTA when they inherited the railroad system from their predecessors: The Pennsylvania Railroad and The Reading Company.
This shift in thinking also applies to city transit where Transportation Centers now lie at both ends of the Frankford El.
Park-and-Ride facilities are beneficial and a tool for providing facilities for drive-up riders in dense markets. Cornwells Heights, Trenton, Metropark, and Lindenwold are good examples of this application.
Over the years, SEPTA has carefully carved out small stations and even entire lines in favor of magnetically drawing travelers to large stations. This has resulted in more traffic on local roads, congested stations and an undersupply of parking. SEPTA is attempting to build out that next parking spot the same way a highway planner thinks more traffic lanes will alleviate congestion. This is not the solution and is a result of bad planning and the wrong people running these agencies. Reform is needed, and your state needs your help to obtain the needed change.
PA-TEC is the most aggressive advocate for reform and passenger rail service expansion in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Now that Joe Casey has convinced Governor Corbett to raise taxes to fund fruitless projects, SEPTA has again demonstrated that they can pull out all the stops on a project to ensure no funds are left over for expansion of service. The Secane commuter rail station on the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad West Chester line (service was cut back to Elwyn in 1986) is now the recipient of a $21 million dollar facelift which will include 60 parking spots, a raised platform, a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the tracks, and outdoor bus shelters and a station building.
SEPTA will be demolishing the historic Pennsylvania Railroad structure, built in 1871 instead of restoring and improving it. While passengers will welcome a new and modern climate controlled building, they may never get the chance to actually use it.
By 2015, SEPTA will be deploying NPT (New Payment Technologies), the new electronic fare system based on RFID technology. This means tickets will no longer be sold at stations or from machines (SEPTA's ticket machines broke about 15 years ago and haven't had any since). Since stations will not serve as sales outlets once NPT is deployed, SEPTA is planning on laying off their station agents and closing all of the stations. At present, stations are only open from early morning until noon. After that, the stations remain heated and lit, but locked, leaving mid-day and evening reverse commuters in the cold. Going forward in a post-NPT environment, all riders will be subject to the elements, but will enjoy the comforts of new bus shelter like enclosures for protection. SEPTA's pre-fabricated shelters, while better than nothing, make waiting for trains that run once an hour a challenge to customers without cars.
Given the limited benefit to the riders, PA-TEC feels that $21 million dollars at Secane is a gross amount of taxpayer funds to apply to a single station, which will offer little improvement to current conditions and a negligible increase in ridership. PA-TEC further asserts that this funding could have been applied to the expansion of service on this line to Glenn Mills as a low cost alternative to SEPTA's $110 million Wawa expansion project in Delaware County.
PA-TEC continues to call for an end to high-cost, low return cosmetic projects that offer little to no improvement to the customer's experience, and a redistribution of funding to service
expansion on all corridors that will generate new ridership and a reduction in driving for current customers who bypass their local station because of parking constraints or eliminated