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NEWS
March 29, 2015 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
The 4-year-old grabbed her purple rain coat, slipped out the back door of her family's Tacony home, and wandered along Torresdale Avenue. It was 3 a.m. Friday, and she was thirsty. Harlan Jenifer stopped his SEPTA Route 56 bus at Magee Avenue to let out a passenger. A man standing outside in the heavy rain told the driver he had better wait. The girl, all alone, clambered onto the bus. "All I want is a Slushie," Jenifer heard her say, over and over. Surveillance video showed the girl, quite comfortable, as she roamed the warm bus, swinging her tiny legs when she sat. "It was too funny," Jenifer said later Friday at SEPTA headquarters.
NEWS
March 28, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
SEPTA will not appeal a federal court ruling that the transit authority must accept virulently anti-Muslim advertising on its buses, SEPTA officials said Thursday. In accepting the ruling, SEPTA officials also said they have tightened the agency's advertising standards to legally prohibit such ads in the future. The black-and-white ads proclaim "Jew Hatred: It's in the Quran" and feature a photograph of a 1941 meeting between Hitler and Hajj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian Arab nationalist who made radio broadcasts supporting the Nazis.
NEWS
March 28, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
SEPTA plans to spend $535 million next year to buy new vehicles, replace and repair rail bridges, upgrade train stations, and begin overhauling its Center City subway concourse. The proposed capital budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is $37 million, or 6.4 percent less than the current capital budget, which contained a one-time infusion of $85 million in federal funding. Among the projected spending is about $160 million earmarked to replace and overhaul vehicles. That will include 13 new locomotives, the first of 525 hybrid buses that will be purchased over five years, and the start of procuring about 45 bi-level railcars to increase capacity on the Regional Rail lines.
NEWS
March 27, 2015 | BY BOB STEWART, Daily News Staff Writer stewarr@phillynews.com, 215-854-4890
NAZI LEADER Adolf Hitler could be featured on the next bus you ride in the Philadelphia area, after SEPTA decided not to appeal a recent federal court ruling that said it could not restrict ads that the transit authority previously called "disparaging" and anti-Islamic. American Freedom Defense Initiative co-founder Pamela Geller called the decision a "victory for truth and free speech" and said the ads will "increase public awareness" of her group's cause. Abby Stamelman Hocky, executive director of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, yesterday said her organization was prepared "to mitigate whatever harm may be done" by the ads being seen in the community.
NEWS
March 26, 2015
I AM COMPELLED to write this letter as the result of a judge's decision to allow a very hurtful anti-Islamic ad to be placed on SEPTA buses. I am well aware of the First Amendment right to free speech, but in my humble opinion to place an ad of Adolph Hitler on these vehicles is not only insensitive and incorrect, but also causes great harm to many people. A federal judge has ruled that since SEPTA has accepted religious, political and public-service advertising in the past, it cannot refuse ads that call for ending U.S. aid to Islamic countries that compare Islam to Hitler.
NEWS
March 23, 2015 | By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
As SEPTA moves further down the line in planning a rail extension to King of Prussia, there are a few things we know - and many more that we don't. Among the decisions so far: It will be a spur off the Norristown High-Speed Rail Line. The entire five-mile route will be on an elevated concrete track. It will stop at the King of Prussia Mall, end at the Valley Forge Casino and Convention Center, and include two to four stops along the way. But transit planners, township officials, and business groups are still studying some of the most crucial details, including which of five proposed routes would get the most ridership, how much each route would cost, and how each would affect noise, traffic, and other environmental conditions.
BUSINESS
March 23, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
Wetter. Warmer. Wilder. That long-term weather forecast for the Philadelphia region means trouble for SEPTA, especially on its railroad, subway, and trolley routes. A federal report released this month, which used SEPTA as a case study for the nation's transit systems, predicts that average temperatures in Philadelphia will rise by 3 to 6 degrees by 2050, with greater annual rainfall and more frequent "heavy precipitation events. " That means SEPTA can expect more flooding, sagging rail-power lines, mudslides, toppled trees, and washed-out rail beds.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
Rising labor and health-care costs are the biggest drivers of a 2.84 percent increase in SEPTA's operating budget proposed for the financial year that starts July 1. The $1.36 billion budget calls for 70 more employees - mostly in safety and construction-support positions - and would make permanent the all-night subway service on Fridays and Saturdays that began as an experiment this year. The budget assumes no fare increases. It anticipates a state subsidy of $658 million, up by $29 million from this year's spending plan.
NEWS
March 18, 2015 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
When Trevor Newman left home for a nearby Burger King on New Year's Day 2013, the teen took a shortcut across some SEPTA tracks. He never made it to the other side, becoming the fifth person killed on the same stretch of the West Trenton line in Langhorne, Bucks County. SEPTA denies responsibility, filing a motion last week to dismiss a civil suit filed by Newman's grandparents. The family claims that SEPTA and track-owner CSX failed to take lifesaving measures, such as erecting a fence, in an area notorious for illegal crossings.
NEWS
March 14, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck and Michael Matza, Inquirer Staff Writers
SEPTA's efforts to block city bus ads proclaiming "Jew Hatred: It's in the Quran" violate free-speech protections and should be halted, a federal judge has found. In a case that grappled with basic First Amendment issues over disparaging advertising, District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg ruled Wednesday that SEPTA had inconsistently run public-issue ads from other organizations, and cleared the way for a private group's ad that seeks to end U.S. aid to Islamic countries using a provocative headline and a photograph of Adolf Hitler meeting with an Arab leader.
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