Ask SEPTA: Joe Casey answers your questions on El token sales, food policy, bus schedules and overnight parking

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SEPTA will continue normal operations Monday after its workers’ union vowed to not immediately strike after its final contract expired.
Credit: Metro file photo

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, who will then forward along your queries.

Question 1: There are many people wondering why they do not sell tokens during rush hour at the Girard Avenue El station. This is a very busy stop and many people are frustrated that they can’t purchase tokens at their stop. Mary Mccandless

Joe Casey: We sell tokens from 5 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. at the “B” window at Girard Station. The cashier’s shift is scheduled at this time because we find that most riders chose to purchase their tokens at the beginning of the work day. The SEPTA website has a list of several vendor sales alternatives located nearby where you can purchase tokens and passes during the evening rush hour. Also, please note that with the rollout of our new payment system next year, there will be sales machines at stations and a significant increase in external sales locations.

Question 2: Why are customers allowed to board or enter the vehicles or subways with open food and drinks? Walter McClanahan

Casey: Compared to other agencies, SEPTA has a more liberal perspective about eating and drinking on public transit as an accommodation for our responsible customers with hectic lifestyles. However, our Passenger Etiquette guidelines clearly state that customers should “drink only from containers with sturdy, resealable lids. No open containers or cans.” Also, that “cooked or prepared foods do not mix with transit travel. Take you meal home to eat.” Our Passenger Etiquette guidelines are designed to be reasonable and respectful. Unfortunately, while the vast majority of our customers cooperate, there are always some that believe rules do not apply to them. SEPTA employees are expected to educate and enforce our etiquette rules with these individuals when inappropriate behavior is observed.

Question 3: Please tell me why SEPTA provides bus schedules that are not adhered to by the drivers? I typically arrive at the designated stop at least five minutes earlier to allow for unforeseen situations, but to average an additional 15 minutes at any given stop/route to wait is a bit much. I feel that if the schedules are not adhered to then why not use that money (probably millions) for maintenance, salaries, etc? Renee Williams

Casey: We train and communicate to our operators that they must adhere to route schedules. We have various methods in place to monitor on-time performance; these include both supervisory oversight of our routes, as well as data collection from our automated reporting systems. If there is a particular route, location and/or time that you believe needs our attention, please contact us directly so we may address your specific situation. First-hand accounts help us to zero-in on specific route segments that need improvement.

Question 4: Why are the rules for overnight parking and no parking on both sides of the driveway never enforced (Chestnut Hill West, Tulpehocken Station)? There have been too many near misses of cars coming into the parking lot, and those coming out. L.R.Wooding

Casey: Because parking fees are not required at Tulpehocken, enforcement crews do not service or patrol the lot. We agree the traffic flow at the lot needs improvement. Beginning this week, we will place notices on those cars parking along the entrance/exit driveway and advise them that parking in these areas is prohibited. Vehicle owners who do not comply will receive a $10 parking tickets on the cars. The next step will be to repaint and mark the driveways as “No Parking Tow Away Zones” and install retractable posts, making it impossible to park along this driveway. It may take a couple of weeks, but this should clear up the problem.


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