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.
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.
As an experienced designer of streetcar systems, one question I am frequently asked is, "Can a streetcar _____?" The blanks are usually filled with design challenges, such as "turn left from a curb lane", or "go under a low clearance underpass" or "operate at higher speeds and frequencies." More often than not, the answer is YES! Modern streetcar systems, such as those operating in Seattle, Tucson, and Atlanta, are modeled after European trams that are designed to fit within tight, complex, and built-out urban environments. The unique combination of vehicle's size coupled with the ability to operate in the same lanes as automobiles, trucks, and buses allow designers to create safe, efficient solutions to nearly every design challenge that arises.
At the Denton County (Texas) Transportation Authority (DCTA), we’re constantly looking for unique ways to engage with passengers, generate brand awareness and increase ridership. This year with Valentine’s Day being on a Saturday, we saw a great opportunity to launch a campaign in which passengers could ride DCTA’s A-train commuter rail and Connect Bus for free on Valentine’s Day all day by saying “Be Mine” to the agency’s rail and bus operators. With low-trending ridership in February, we needed to find a way to increase ridership and brand awareness within Denton County and surrounding cities. Launching the Valentine’s Day promotion definitely would help us achieve this.
Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.
To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.