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
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…