What Passengers Want to Settle on the Transit System – NBC10 Philadelphia
David McNeeley started riding SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Elevated Train Line in Philadelphia several times a week to see his girlfriend.
The former New Yorker has used public transportation extensively over the years. He says these days on SEPTA he doesn’t have a strong sense of law and order. But he also doesn’t know if it’s all the fault of the transit system.
“It really feels like there’s not really any authority,” McNeeley said. “And that’s not to say that I really think a ton of cops would be the best move, necessarily, because I see it as a larger issue with the city.”
More than 2,500 people responded to NBC10’s poll on SEPTA and the issues facing the transit agency. NBC10’s Matt DeLucia shows us the results of the survey.
McNeeley was one of 2,500 SEPTA runners to take part in the third annual SEPTA survey of NBC10 investigators. From daily commuters to occasional riders and even those who have given up on public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, respondents identified the reasons why they love SEPTA and the reasons why they have a problem with SEPTA.
Crime, homelessness, drug use and cleanliness are among the top concerns identified by those who answered the survey’s 27 questions.
SEPTA Chief Executive Leslie Richards and SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III said in interviews that they try to allocate as many resources as possible to make riders feel safe, keeping transit lines and buses clean and helping homeless people find housing.
Finding transit police officers remains a fundamental problem, Nestel said.
“If I went to SEPTA and said I have 300 people who want to become transit police officers, they would say hire them,” he said. “I don’t have 300 people who want to be transit police officers.”
SEPTA Crime Mapping
Below is a map with the locations of the SEPTA stops. Click on the red circles to see the location and types of crimes that occurred at each location in 2021, according to statistics provided by SEPTA.
SEPTA is trying to figure out how best to use $900 million in federal infrastructure funding provided last year in the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve the system, a said Richards. But she added that there must also be a long-term vision for funding that delivers lasting improvements.
The money has helped keep trains and buses running, Richards said, although ridership is still only about 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
More than 2,500 transit riders responded to NBC’s third annual SEPTA survey10. NBC10 reporter Matt DeLucia digs deeper into their answers on the big three Cs: COVID, crime and cleanliness.
“If we didn’t have the cash on the operations side, there’s no doubt that we would have had to make significant layoffs. There’s no doubt that we (wouldn’t) be able to, you know, to provide the service that we are now,” she said. “We will have good options when this funding from the federal fund runs out because I don’t think anyone is counting on another injection of federal funding like what we just received. And so we have to figure out what we’re going to do. look like without it?”
Commuter Ronald Blue, who took part in the SEPTA survey, said his concerns were immediate. He wants to see better on-time service and less anarchy on the trains.
“It was two days in a row where there was a 15-minute delay on the Market-Frankford line,” Blue said as he stood at the 60th Street Station in West Philadelphia. He added of a violent incident he witnessed: “They attacked this child on the bus and kicked the door of the bus down.”
SEPTA runners like West Philadelphia’s Ronald Blue took part in the third annual SEPTA poll of NBC10 investigators. He and more than 2,500 passengers responded to the Transit Life Survey. NBC10 reporter Matt DeLucia then spoke to the top SEPTA official about the results.
Richards and Nestel said they are devoting all available resources to issues that prevent runners from returning to SEPTA. Of 1,300 respondents who said they had stopped riding SEPTA, 43% identified crime as the main reason.
“We won’t exist if people don’t feel safe in our system and people need us and the Philadelphia area needs us as much as we need them,” Richards said.