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* CELEBRATING OUR 41th YEAR! * www,junto.blogspot.com * Richard Carreño, Editor * PhiladelphiaJunto@ymail.com * 1.215.966.9213 *

Wednesday, 1 December 2004

Septa Fi

By Richard Carreno
SEPTA certainly needs any help that Gov. Rendall can wrest from our tight-wad, country-lad Legislature. Unfortunately, any 11th-hour bailout would just be, once again, an ad hoc band-aid -- initially sticky, but quickly worn off. What SEPTA needs is political leadership and clout, and, of course, it has neither whilst the city is governed by Mayor-mobile John W. Street.
Street has been AWOL on all the big issues. Sure, he went out on the limb -- prearranged to be amply thick, secure, and outfitted with a safety net under it -- by entering labor talks between the Philadelphia Orchestra and its management. But where was Mayor AWOL during the more significant contract negotiations between the Philadelphia School District and public school teachers. And, now, during the SEPTA crisis when municipal leadership is again required, Mayor AWOL is playing hooky.
SEPTA needs the 'vision thing,' never Mayor AWOL's strong-suit. Another quick fix is not the answer. SEPTA (particularly its three subway lines) needs to be transformed -- from a conveyer belt for the city's blue-collar working poor to a truly first-class public transportation system. Of all the East Coast big cities (Boston, New York, Washington), only Philadelphia has a subway network that fails to integrate all classes as its users.
To accomplish this, the system ( though, to be sure, already safe) has to create  the appearance of safety -- and hospitality. More SEPTA cops. More air deodorizer for the Broad Street line. (Its urine smell has to go!) Dismantle the Hoovervilles that have cropped up along the Green Line. (Check out the 19th Street stop). And, yes, even a new line!
Will Mayor AWOL step up to plate? Not likely. Even New York Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire at last count, 'drives' to work on the subway. But don't expect to see Mayor AWOL on the El anytime soon. If you're wondering, he's that guy in that gas-guzzling SUV mayor-mobile just ahead of you.

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