Philadelphia May Accept Money to Privatize Station Naming; Pittsburgh Considers Similar Move

SEPTA Paoli

» SEPTA board votes Thursday on plan to rename station on behalf of AT&T in exchange for $3 million. Is the public interest being sacrificed?

The last two years have been extremely difficult for virtually every American transit agency — they’ve been slaughtered by declining tax revenue and been forced to both decrease services and increase fares, despite a general uptick in the market of people interested in riding public transportation. This lack of funds — and a realization that Washington is not riding in on a white horse — has led agencies to do things many wouldn’t have considered appropriate just a few years back, just to make a quick buck.

In Philadelphia, that may mean the renaming of the Broad Street Subway’s Pattison Avenue terminus to the AT&T Station by August if the SEPTA regional transit board agrees to the deal in a session later this week. Pattison

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Searching for Interest in the Daily Commute

Portland Aerial Tram

» As gondolas catch on in South America, should other cities search for ways to make transit trips more interesting?

When I lived in New York, I took the subway from Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn to my office at Union Square everyday. It’s easy to get between the two — there are several different lines that make the trip in about fifteen minutes — but I would inevitably choose to walk out of my way to take the N Broadway train rather than the closer 4 and 5 Lexington Avenue lines.

There’s a simple explanation: whereas the N soars high above the East River along the Manhattan Bridge as it leaves Brooklyn, the Lexington Avenue lines run underwater. The three minutes it takes to cross that bridge brought to my mornings the light of the sun and magnificent views of New York’s skyscrapers, parks, and riverfront. I’m not sure how

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Pennsylvania Calls Special Session to Resolve Transportation Funding Crisis

Pennsylvania Interstate 80

» After losing bid to install tolls along Interstate 80, state looks to other solutions to impending transportation funding gap. An opportunity to rethink the state role in transport.

Today, Pennsylvania state legislators will meet to fill a massive $472 million gap in the transportation budget — almost ten percent of the overall $6.1 billion in road and transit spending planned for this year. Governor Ed Rendell called the session after his plan to toll Interstate 80 fell apart due to a federal law that makes it illegal to use revenues gained from a Washington-funded road on something else. The I-80 tolls would have generated up to $950 million in annual revenue once the infrastructure was put into place by 2011 as originally planned.

The need to assemble a special legislative session comes at a terrible time for the state. Pennsylvania’s road and transit systems need $3

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Pennsylvania Releases State Rail Plan, Promotes Increased Investment in Intercity Systems

Pennsylvania Priority Passenger Rail Corridors Map

» A state rail plan does not mean Pennsylvanian will move forward with a specific project. A lack of ambition, or a reflection of few funds?

The U.S. government’s unwillingness to commit to prioritizing certain rail corridors and its fear of moving beyond empty rhetoric to describe the country’s future rail system are frustrating reactions to the sometimes paralyzing federal system. But intercity rail advocates should take some comfort in the fact that certain states are taking advantage of their governing responsibilities to promote projects and develop detailed long-term proposals. The investment made by states like California, Illinois, and Wisconsin in specific new lines is one indication of this take-the-first-step strategy; so are the proliferation of state-level rail plans.

Several states have assembled long-term reports that indicate how spending would be distributed over the years; Virginia’s 2025 proposal, for instance, highlights what could be accomplished with

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Philadelphia Reevaluates Regional Rail Route Structure, Dismissing Through-Running

» The advantages made possible with the opening of a downtown tunnel in the 1980s will be passed over if SEPTA officials get their way.

When it opened the Center City Commuter Connection in 1984, Philadelphia had produced an interconnected regional rail system few other American cities could boast of. By digging a tunnel 1.7 miles between the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Suburban Station and the tracks of the former Reading Railroad, regional transit authority SEPTA created a unified rail system spanning the entire Philadelphia region.

Unlike most U.S. commuter systems, Philadelphia could offer its riders through-service from one part of the metropolitan area to the next and stops at multiple stations downtown. Trains wouldn’t have to turn around at the center-city terminus, clearing up space for redevelopment and speeding up travel times. New uniformly numbered lines operated from one suburban

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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