SEPTA named best transit agency in America

Posted: July 27, 2012

REALLY?

SEPTA on Thursday was named the best transit agency in North America by the American Public Transportation Association.

The group selected SEPTA out of "dozens" of other transit operators that provide more than 20 million trips annually, according to a news release. It cited the agency as a "model" for the public-transit industry for improving customer service and outreach, increasing sustainability with hybrid buses and achieving its highest ridership since 1989.

"We are thrilled to receive this award, and honored that our peers in the transit agency have singled out SEPTA's achievements for recognition," SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said in the release.

While SEPTA administrators puffed their chests at the award, many riders in and around Market East Station were surprised to hear the news.

Ben Neidigh of Manayunk said that there aren't enough trains, adding that some train cars "look like they were [built] in World War II." Neidigh said he thinks that people continue to drive into the city because SEPTA "doesn't offer enough service."

Ronald Richardson of West Philadelphia shook his head at the news and complained about the lack of frequency of public transportation in some areas of the city.

"Apparently, we don't gotta get to work," he said of his neighborhood.

Others echoed complaints about what they see as a lack of access and suggested several pricey improvements, including lower fares and a new line to the Northeast.

South Philadelphia resident Cassandra Hughes said some escalators at the train stations are "terrible."

Hughes said SEPTA should face competition from another transit company in Philadelphia to compel it to provide better service.

Richardson, however, offered some kind words for the system: It's "good because you can get anywhere you want," he said.

In response to these complaints, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch invited more.

"We're constantly working at improving services," he said Thursday night. "Even something that would be negative feedback, we want to hear from so we can improve."

He urged dissatisfied riders to call 215-580-7800.

Contact Sean Carlin at 215-854-5926, carlins@phillynews.com or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.

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