Anthony scanned the crowd every day, looking for Jackie, the beautiful woman who rode the same train he took to work. Cheryl looked up from her book and had a conversation with George, the man who said hello as they were waiting for the trolley.
While these sound like plots right out of Hollywood, the settings for these and many more real-life love stories were Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) vehicles, stations and platforms. For the third consecutive year, SEPTA cut the February chill by celebrating red-hot romance on the rails with its “SEPTA Love Stories” contest.
Finding the love of one’s life on public transportation happens all the time — at least it does in SEPTA’s five-county Greater Philadelphia service region. Over the past three years, hundreds of SEPTA Sweethearts have submitted their “moving” tales of “bliss on the bus” and “love on the line,” inspiring thousands to vote for their favorite mass transit Romeos and Juliettes. The 14 couples receiving the most votes win prizes, including an invitation to ride on the "Love Train" — a specially decorated Market-Frankford Line (“the El”) six-car train that takes passengers on a romantic ride with a perfect view of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's "Love Letter Project.” The trip to view the 50 rooftop murals in West Philadelphia along the Market-Frankford Line is followed by a VIP reception at SEPTA's downtown Philadelphia headquarters.
When you think about it, public transit is a perfect place to find a significant other. SEPTA serves one million riders a day, many of whom are eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, sharing stop after stop along the route (high-speed line dating, anyone?). Commuters heading to work see the same familiar faces day after day, many forming “train families” or finding “bus buddies.” They share details of their jobs, weekend plans and hobbies while traveling to and from the office. And then there are the wildcards — those who lock eyes with a stranger on the subway and take a chance at striking up a conversation. Sometimes a simple hello can lead to happily ever after.
The SEPTA Love Stories contest draws entries that run the gamut from falling for the operator who drives the bus every day to reuniting with an old flame. However couples found love, their tales give hope to single passengers that love can happen when and where it is least expected.
The next time you board your bus, train or trolley, Mr. or Ms. Right might be there waiting for you. For inspiration on sparking a romance on the rails, read the stories of the SEPTA Sweethearts at www.septalovestories.org.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Driverless cars have been in the news for quite some time. Last September, I speculated in PC 360, an insurance trade magazine, that insurance premiums for autos could decrease by as much as 40% over the next five years as autonomous cars made travel much safer. I increased my estimate to a 75% decrease in insurance premiums by extending the timeline to 15 years. When I wrote those two articles, I remember thinking how much of a personal paradigm shift was needed to accept a driverless car as safe. Now, it appears that driverless buses are in the near future as well.
What do transit authorities like SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART have in common other than transporting thousands, even millions of riders every day? All were recently ranked as four of the U.S.’s 500 “Best Employers” by Forbes magazine.
SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART were among 25 organizations included in Forbes’ “Transportation & Logistics” category, along with Southwest Airlines, Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific and Greyhound. In fact, SEPTA (#33) and MBTA (#49) placed higher than Apple (#55) and SEPTA was the highest ranked company in Pennsylvania.