Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PATCO's woeful ride

No way to run a railroad

PATCO's woeful ride

Once upon a time, when PATCO service was interrupted, riders would later find a printed explanation (or apology) on the train seats.

Those were the days when the commuter line between Lindenwold and Center City was a mass transit role model instead of a little engine that can't.

As my colleague Paul Nussbaum reports, busted escalators and stalled trains are taxing the riding public's patience. It seems the fabulous Delaware River Port Authority's railroad division neglected (forgot?)  to renew an escalator/elevator maintenance contract; earlier this year, the same folks also underestimated the cost of rebuilding tracks and other facilities by 47 percent.

And alas, the arrival of those wonderful refurbished cars we've been promised for years has been delayed, yet again.

I'm a frequent rider, not a commuter. I still love how the Speedline affords me (generally) quick access to Center City. But on a round-trip Tuesday, I find the escalator at the Westmont station broken, as is one of the doors of the car I board for my return. The bilious yellow-green interior of the car itself is dirty, if not grimy. And the windows are so discolored they seem tinted.

In fairness, I must say the renovated concourse at 9th/10th and Locust looks great. My handy-dandy Freedom Card works just fine. And when I get back to Jersey, one of  PATCO's "transit ambassadors" gives me a real smile.

So come on, PATCO: You can do this.

You can get back on track.

--KEVIN RIORDAN

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