Ask SEPTA: GM Joe Casey answers your questions

Credit: Metro file photo
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 christina.paciolla@metro.us, who will then forward along your queries.

Ask SEPTA is part of our new column series, which also features political columnist Matthew Turner and lifestyle columnist Kathryn Quigley. The columns run each Monday in our Metro Philadelphia print edition and online.

Question: Despite the recent alarming news of service realignment if the Republicans in Harrisburg don’t pass Senate Bill 1, and we should all take this very seriously, I do have a question in regards to SEPTA’s dedication to provide real-time predictability through Next To Arrive for buses and trolleys. When will SEPTA have a countdown clock at certain bus stops, or provide the data that could be integrated into a mobile app, which displays the amount of minutes until a bus arrives at a given intersection? Anonymous

Joe Casey: SEPTA provides real-time, or near real-time, data for buses and trolleys on our website, as well as via an API which can be utilized by third-party developers for no cost at all. This data provides the location of the vehicle when last polled and allows our riders to reasonably estimate the arrival of its vehicle.

However, due to the age and limitation of our current infrastructure, we can only poll our vehicles’ locations every three minutes, which is not frequent enough to provide accurate count-down estimates. We’ve tested various prediction systems and have found that they do not provide reliable estimates, again due to the frequency of the polling cycle.

Q: Do SEPTA trains or buses have smoke detectors? I was on the El train and one of the passengers was smoking. Is the no smoking policy enforced? Rhonda Harrison, West Oak Lane

Casey:

Most SEPTA vehicles, such as our Silverliner V trains, buses and the Market-Frankford Line cars, have detection equipment for fires and/or fire-related smoke, but are not equipped with detectors for cigarette smoke.

SEPTA employees may request someone smoking in a prohibited area  to extinguish their cigarette; however, the smoking policy is enforced by the Transit Police.

Smoking on a SEPTA vehicle is punishable by up to a $300 fine.

Q: Why does the express schedule for the El start with a B train and not an A? Mandy David, Olde Kensington

Casey: The purpose of the A and B trains on the Market Frankford Line (EL) is to help speed our customers’ rides during the rush morning and evening hour to and from Center City.

They are limited stop trains, both stopping at heavily utilized stations while alternately stopping at less utilized stations according to data collected through ridership analysis.

If you board at FTC, the express service begins with a B train; however, if you board at the 69th Street Transportation Center, the express service begins with an A.

This helps to balance out the service between the two directions.

Send your questions about SEPTA services and other issues about the transit agency to christina.paciolla@metro.us. They will be forwarded to Joe Casey, who will answer them in a special column here.

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Twitter: @metrophilly
Follow City Editor Christina Paciolla on Twitter: @cpaciolla
Follow Metro Philadelphia on Facebook: Metro Philadelphia



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

10 storylines to watch for the Giants this…

The Giants rebounded from an embarrassing 0-6 start last season, but not well enough to make the playoffs.

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…