SEPTA compromises but is it enough?

By Alisha Wilson

With about 750,000 people traveling on its routes each workday, SEPTA ranks 6th in the nation as the largest transit system. Community members are wondering how SEPTA cannot ensure reliable and accessible transit for the city of Philadelphia and fair wages for its employees. SEPTA often indicates that delays are caused by operator shortages since the company has seen  over 200 vacancies across all departments since January 2022. 

With millions of dollars in revenue earned over the years, one must wonder — what is SEPTA spending it on? The money cannot possibly be going towards proactively improving the efficiency and reliability of the transportation system. Perhaps, some of the funds are going to executives instead of trickling down to the rest of the organization.

This posits 1964 as a golden year for the public transportation system, since this was the last time its buses were redesigned or reevaluated. Now after abruptly announcing changes and receiving backlash from not consulting with the community, they are turning negatives into positives by trying to compromise with the people. 

New to Philadelphia and a California native, I was excited to experience what I thought was a well-run transportation system. The experience I had was characterized by long wait times, safety concerns, constant pauses in tunnels, and unstable cell service. As of now, I’m debating whether gas prices and minimal parking might be the better options. 

What’s the alternative, you ask. In this case, it’s investing in a non-profit that seems to be having trouble adapting to the needs of its community. If the pandemic revealed anything, it publicized the power of a dollar. And as a nation, we have reached a boiling point of company’s unwillingness to offer fair wages, create participatory processes, and truly invest in the communities that companies are prospering from. 

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