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Ask SEPTA: Joe Casey answers your questions on City Hall station, fares and broken meters

SEPTA buses. Credit: Getty Images SEPTA buses.
Credit: Getty Images

Every three weeks, SEPTA general manager Joe Casey will address public transit questions submitted by Metro Philadelphia readers. Anything from frequency of trains to funding to cleanliness and more is fair game. Ask Casey whatever you like by emailing City Editor Christina Paciolla at christina.paciolla@metro.us, who will then forward along your queries.

Question #1: When can we expect to have the City Hall subway station (especially on the blue line platforms) to be completed? This is a huge tourist station and looks like it belongs in the third world. David A. Dams

Joe Casey: With the passage of Act 89 by the State Assembly, and signing by the governor this past November, SEPTA is now able to move forward with the long-deferred renovations of the Broad Street Subway City Hall Station and the Market Frankford 15th Street Station in Center City. The design of the renovations is scheduled to go before SEPTA’s board this month for approval The project will be designed and constructed in phases to reduce the impact on SEPTA’s patrons. Construction at the 15th Street Station is scheduled to commence by early 2016. The City Hall Station construction will follow behind the 15th Street work. Upon completion, the fully renovated, ADA-accessible stations will be transit facilities that will serve our riders and impress Philadelphia's tourists.

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Question #2:Having been on so many SEPTA transit excursions on my time off for the past several years, I have recently brought up a major customer service issue with a few Victory Division employees on my previous travels — the infamous pay-when-you-get-off policy that was enshrined in their 69th Street Terminal routes for too long. As it has been known to induce plenty of fare evasion incidents in the long run, they all agreed with me that it should be abolished — especially as SEPTA is in the midst of fully implementing the new fare tech in the coming years. Once the new fare tech is fully implemented on the entire SEPTA City and Suburban transit system, would you personally expect the pay-when-you-get-off policy to be abolished by then? I understand that SEPTA is cracking down on fare evaders at the subway lines on a regular basis, but I believe that Victory's pay-when-you-get-off policy should be abolished soon as the new fare tech is finally in place as it is known to stifle innovation and progress of customer service.
Daniel Torigoe, Chesterbrook

Casey: Thank you for your feedback. SEPTA has been aware of the problems associated with the pay-as-you-exit policy in our Suburban Division. In fact, we have just completed an internal review of this practice and have determined that our fare practices should be consistent throughout the Authority.Therefore, effective with the fall schedule change, September 1, 2014, SEPTA will be implementing a “Pay As You Enter” rule for Suburban service routes departing from 69th Street Transportation Center.This change is designed to reduce dwell time at stops, reduce fare evasion and streamline your trip because you will be able to exit by the rear door without having to stop back at the fare box.Pay as You Enter is the way fares are currently paid for travel toward 69th Street, it’s how you pay when using City Transit routes, and it will become the standard for all SEPTA services with the introduction of our new fare payment program. In order to have a smooth transition we will be implementing this change now.

Question #3:The electronic parking meters continue to be a source of frustration:broken/machines not working;rejecting coins deposited (always need to have more than $1 in change to be ready for this);machine changes space number in mid-transaction;touch keys too sensitive or not sensitive enough — can be difficult to properly enter space number.Can maintenance be done on machines? They were more user-friendly when first installed. Or go back to the old coin slot machines? Other commuters are also frustrated. Joe Sullivan

Casey: We are aware of the continued frustration the parking meters are causing our customers. We have been and will continue to work with the vendor who supplied these meters to find a solution to the failing touch pads. In the interim, if you find you can’t complete the payment process and are issued a ticket, you can submit an appeal by following the instructions on the ticket. SEPTA is aware of the meter issues and will apply this consideration during the appeal process.

Do you have a question for SEPTA? Email Metro Philadelphia's city editor at christina.paciolla@metro.us.

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