Posts Tagged ‘SEPTA


Mass transit is an unwise place to nap

Not until the bus took off did I notice the ball rolling toward me. It was about two and a half inches in diameter, pale brown. It looked like a dusty lump of clay, a fuzzy ping pong ball. It went directly for my feet. Then there were two. Then three. I shifted my legs to avoid crushing, kicking or otherwise interacting with them.

When the bus stopped and the trio skipped along forward, I realized they were stale powdered cinnamon Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts. They rolled too well to be soft and fresh.

(Image stolen from Maryann's Baking Company in Sacramento, California.)

(Image stolen from Maryann’s Baking Company in Sacramento, California.)

Following their trail toward the front of the bus, I saw a puddle spreading forward and backward along the ravines in the floor. It was the same color as the Munchkins. Coffee with cream. Ah, someone had been to Dunkin’ Donuts and spilled something.

I traced the coffee to its source. A woman seated near the front of the bus was reaching down to the floor, concentrating very hard on gathering up the donut holes in the clear plastic cup they came in. What is she going to do with them? I thought. Does she actually want to eat them, or is she just cleaning up after herself?

The coffee cup, on its side on the floor under her seat, rolled helplessly back and forth in a lazy half-circle. Continue reading ‘Mass transit is an unwise place to nap’


Naming Rights

AT&T StationSEPTA just changed the name of one of its subway stations to AT&T. It’s not the End Times, but it is a little odd.

It makes sense that AT&T would want this. They provide cell service underground, which is pretty cool. They have a huge marketing budget. So, give them ad space down there. Give them sponsorship of a station, a logo on every sign and next to the station’s dot on the map, tiles that match the logo or the CEO’s grandmother’s favorite colors. Whatever. But changing the name of the station is just weird.

Stations are normally named after the streets they are located at or landmarks nearby because it makes sense for them to have some connection to the city they serve. Even if it were named after a corporation that had some kind of roots in Philadelphia — Aramark or Comcast or Sunoco — that would make more sense than AT&T.

Imagine using it in conversation: “I need to get off at AT&T.” “Transfer to a bus at AT&T.”

Conceivably, any number of stations could be called AT&T. How confusing would that be?

It’s different for something like a regional train station. Call that anything you want, it doesn’t matter. For all any traveler cares, 30th street station is just “Philadelphia.” Penn Station is “New York.” South Station is “Boston” and Union Station is “Chicago.” Their precise locations and names are less important.

But within a city, on a transit map, which is essential for intracity navigation, we need names that make sense. A geographical connection between the subway map and the geography it represents is kind of important. Or should we just give up on any sense of utility for SEPTA maps.

Of course this will continue. Advertisers need to work harder and be more clever if they are going to get to us. (AT&T’s best advertisement is the service it provides underground, not a logo on a map.) But I hope we can limit it in a way that makes sense.

the untallied hours