Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The future? SEPTA is getting there

If this is the future, well, it's not bad. The Prohibition-themed car looks pretty cool, actually, though I wonder how much sunshine the "Sunshine Express" is really bringing into its passengers' mornings.

The future? SEPTA is getting there

Several SEPTA train cars have been converted into rolling ads for Tropicana juice, labeledthe "Sunshine Express," and covered with an orange-colored wrap.
Several SEPTA train cars have been converted into rolling ads for Tropicana juice, labeledthe "Sunshine Express," and covered with an orange-colored wrap. CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

So according to today's Inquirer, SEPTA is pioneering new sources of revenue, extending the "ad-wrapped bus" concept to regional-rail trains.

If this is the future, well, it's not bad. The Prohibition-themed car looks pretty cool, actually, though I wonder how much sunshine the "Sunshine Express" is really bringing into its passengers' mornings ... vs. how much cringing. I also wonder why Colt .45 for buses was nixed, while Bailey's Irish Cream on train cars is fine. And ads for cars on a train? Isn't that kind of self-defeating?

All that is probably moot, though, as I almost never take the train: I'm a bus rider.

And this talk of drawing lines of appropriateness and of the tradeoff between rider convenience (wraps, though translucent, do interfere with window views) and the need for funding, and especially the push into the future, makes me wonder one thing: When is SEPTA going to put some of these increased funds into electronics?

For years I waited for a bus at 15th and JFK and watched as at least a quarter of the various routes' buses arrived with malfunctioning light-up route signs on the front (helpfully informing us that the bus was "SEPTA"), requiring drivers to yell out the route number upon opening the door. I was about to remark that this problem must have improved in the past year when I realized it just could be that since our company moved I don't wait at that stop anymore.

So maybe a couple dollars could be thrown in that direction. Even more "futuritically," SEPTA, along with most major urban transportation networks these days, has a neat tool on its web site that lets you check where along the route your bus is. But that information is only as good as the units on the buses that are transmitting it -- and in the six months or so I've been checking for my bus, it's all too often been the case that there's no transmission. Some physical buses seem to go for consecutive days without showing up on the screen.

(Case in point: Tonight after writing this post I pulled up the map for my bus home, which should show 2 buses. It shows the route on a Philly map - with zero buses.)

Look, I get that a transportation company needs tires, sheet metal, paint, labor, the same stuff they've always needed. But if SEPTA is pushing forward on the ad-wrap frontier in order to scare up revenues, the organization might do well to use some of that to bring SEPTA fully into the 21st century.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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