Editorial: The Phillies Parade

A SEPTA worker guides Phillies fans to trains after leaving the stadium.
A SEPTA worker guides Phillies fans to trains after leaving the stadium.

SEPTA did its best

Posted: November 07, 2008

Everybody's hoping for another Phillies parade next year, but fans shouldn't expect SEPTA to do the impossible - that is, carry hundreds of thousands of riders beyond its normal capacity.

The disappointed baseball fans who were delayed and stranded on crowded train platforms last week were understandably frustrated and angry. But they really shouldn't have been surprised that a commuter rail system sized for 135,000 could not handle several times the ridership.

No question, thousands tried to do the right thing by taking a train or bus to Center City and the stadium complex. They simply were thwarted by the unmovable math that governs train capacity.

On Wednesday, it was classy of SEPTA boss Joseph M. Casey to apologize to riders for the chaos during the parade and Phillies love-fest at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. That's reflective of a more customer-friendly outlook under the new general manager.

But the transit agency did its best to manage a difficult situation. Apology or not, would-be riders would encounter the same situation were another Phillies parade held today.

These are good times for transit, with gas prices driving home the wisdom of commuting by train and bus. To keep up, SEPTA just purchased eight used rail cars from New Jersey Transit and expects to add 120 new trains to its fleet over the next two years. But the crowds Friday proved the adage about having too much of a good thing.

Even with the enhanced state funding coming its way, SEPTA cannot be expected to keep extra trains parked for once-a-generation events like a Phillies parade. Even so, it turned in an admirable performance by safely carrying more than double its normal train passengers.

Riders who don't normally use SEPTA shouldn't use the parade experience as reason not to take trains that are reliable and far less crowded most days.

At the same time, SEPTA can sharpen its customer service by doing everything possible to provide frequent updates to riders in the event of another extraordinary crush of transit riders.

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