SEPTA to cut weekend service on R5

Tyler Cunnion

On the University’s campus, the SEPTA R5 station behind Mendel Hall is a hub of activity. Each day, students from the West Campus apartments pass through the tunnel to get to Main Campus. The R5 train into Philadelphia is also a vital method of transportation for many looking to have a good time on the weekend, and for others the train provides a quick ride to and from the school.

Recently, however, many have expressed concerns about the safety of the tunnel. Most students will remember the heavy rains which flooded the tunnel in September. Those who have used the tunnel will have noticed the smashed out mirrors, which were originally meant to be safety features but were never replaced after being vandalized.

SGA’s Campus Improvements Committee has decided to tackle this problem and repair the tunnel. SGA’s goals include repairing the mirrors, repaving the walkway and giving the tunnel a fresh paint job.

The tunnel, however, is only one part of the problem that SGA is looking to solve. As a result of a $62.2 million budget shortfall, SEPTA has been forced to implement a contingency plan. This plan calls not only for rate increases on all public transportation but would also eliminate weekend service on the R5 line. The Campus Improvements Committee has dedicated itself to lobbying SEPTA to maintain this service.

“The Campus Improvements Committee has been in terrific contact with several employees of SEPTA, including some high-ranking officials who have promised to hear our concerns,” student chairperson Mike Lyon said. “We have also been in contact with members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature who have been very influential in helping us reach these high-ranking officials.”

Regional SEPTA managers have been of even less help. “They have often turned a deaf ear to us in the hopes that we might get off their backs,” Lyon said. “We do not intend to get off their backs.”

Students are upset about the proposed plans, especially since many of them were not aware of SEPTA’s budget troubles. For underclassmen, who cannot have cars on campus, the plan is especially inconvenient. “Without the train, I’m basically stuck here,” freshman Adam Perry said.

Freshman Bill McCloskey agreed. “It’s terrible for students who don’t have cars on campus.”

SEPTA’s contingency plan was originally scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of this month, but a $13 million emergency funds grant from Governor Rendell was able to delay this until February 27, at which point R5 weekend service will cease, unless the Governor can provide additional funds to shorten the remaining $49 million gap. Students wishing to get involved should contact the Campus Improvements Committee. There is also a petition circulating requesting the continuation of weekend service.