Ask SEPTA: GM Joe Casey answers your questions on tunnel walls, smoking, airport junctions

SEPTA's regional rail lines are making stops every 15 minutes this morning. Credit: Metro file photo
SEPTA’s regional rail lines are making stops every 15 minutes this morning.
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.

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: Looking at the subway tunnel walls, I noticed how they are painted a dingy black! Obviously that’s paint to cover up graffiti, but how about a lighter, more vibrant color? It would make the subway more pleasant as well as make it easier for the operator to see. Jay Runkle

Joe Casey: The Broad Street Line’s station walls are typically dark at the bottom because it is very labor intensive to keep them clean near the track area. The compromise has been to paint the lower half dark and the upper half white. We have also experimented with plastic panels at some spots and will continue to do so because we agree they are the answer to presenting a brighter platform area. However, the tunnel walls between stations on the Market Frankford Line and Sub-Surface will remain unpainted or black. This is to both reduce the costs to maintain and cover graffiti.

Q: I am wondering what SEPTA’s policy is regarding the enforcement of the nonsmoking rules on the various platforms? I often see SEPTA employees walk right past people smoking on the platforms at 30th Street and 69th Street without saying anything. Are they advised to avoid confrontation regarding this issue? Bryan McCormick

Casey: Signs are posted in many locations as a rider courtesy reminder. Unfortunately, the law prohibiting smoking does not apply to all areas used by SEPTA’s riders. Employees tend to know where the illegal areas are and understand that there is no legal basis to ask the smoker to stop. SEPTA is in the process of seeking legislation to prohibit smoking on all owned/leased properties.

Q: On the Regional Rail Airport line, I noticed there is only one crossover just as you enter. Have you considered possibly installing a crossover track between Terminals C & D and Terminals E & F? I think it would help improve the traffic flow.

Casey: Based on the current 30 minutes between trains, the location of the Airport Junctions (crossover tracks under Terminal One) provide a sufficient balance between operational flexibility and maintenance costs. In cooperation with the Department of Aviation, we prioritize Track #2 (adjacent to the Taxi Road) for more convenient access to the baggage area for both inbound and outbound passengers at Terminals A thru E/F. Should the operating patterns or service frequency need to change, we could look at an additional crossover in the areas mentioned in your question, however, track geometry would make it very difficult to maintain.

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


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