1964 was a momentous year for transportation.
Car enthusiasts will remember it as the year Ford revolutionized the auto industry with the introduction of the Mustang.
In the public transit world, 1964 marked the world’s first high-speed rail network (in Japan), the first driverless train (on the London Underground - video), double-decker cars being introduced on suburban railways in Sydney and Northern California breaking ground — with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance — on the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) system.
Fifty years ago was an important time for public transportation in the Philadelphia region, too. On Feb. 18, 1964, the organizational meeting that established what is now the nation's sixth largest transportation agency— the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) — was held.
SEPTA was formed at a time when local, nearly bankrupt transit and rail companies were looking to exit the passenger business altogether. The transit system was charged with the planning, development, and coordination of a regional transportation system for Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery (Pa.) counties, which started with the absorption of the Philadelphia Transit Co. (PTC) in September 1968.
SEPTA will celebrate its golden anniversary
throughout 2014, posting "Throwback Thursday" and "Flashback Friday" features on a special website
. And, in keeping with its commitment to public service, the agency is asking passengers to join the party by sharing their "first ride" stories and participating in contests via iSEPTAPHILLY.com
“We know that there are people who, although they have moved from the Philadelphia region, still fondly recall taking the train to the city for special family day out or riding the bus to school,” said SEPTA GM Joe Casey. “We are inviting all of our customers, past and current, near and far, to send their SEPTA memories.“
SEPTA is also using its anniversary to establish an official archive, to which the public, transit enthusiasts, and current and former transit system employees can contribute SEPTA artifacts and memorabilia they have collected over the last 50 years.
“This is the first time we will host a formal site for SEPTA photos, documents and keepsakes,” said Casey.
For information about SEPTA’s fabulous 50th festivities and how to contribute memories and items to the archive, click here
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Transit tech's future showcased at ITS World Congress"
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.
The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.
Around the world, artwork of all forms adorns transportation centers, stations and bus shelters. While many of these statues, paintings, mosaics and sculptures are permanently installed as part of a station’s architecture, transportation organizations can use their spaces for art exhibitions that not only make transit hubs more aesthetically pleasing for commuters, but also inspire budding artists. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently partnered with two organizations to showcase the artistic talent of youth from the Greater Philadelphia region and around the world.