Archive for February, 2009

SEPTA Philadelphia Beer Week day pass revised again and again

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Last night is seemed this was all over and done with. A corrected version (showing the Philadelphia skyline) of the SEPTA day pass had been posted the SEPTA online store.

However, it looks like’s criticism (Feb 11) of the Philadelphia skyline photo chosen was heard and has been acted upon:

Given that this whole conversation stems from Philly Skyline’s regular skyline inspections, it would be inappropriate if I did not point out that the new graphic’s skyline photo is old enough that it does not include Comcast Center. You know Comcast Center — the place where Beer Week ceremoniously kicks off with the Opening Tap, the official Philly Beer Week Keg Hammer of Glory.

Tell you what, Septa. Since I know you’re reading this, how ’bout this. I will provide you with a recent image of the skyline — with Comcast Center, the Ritz-Carlton, 10 Rittenhouse, Murano, whatever you like — in exchange for a Beer Week pass for every day of the event. It’ll be like our own little Billy Ripken ’89 Fleer legacy. Gimme a yell — blove AT phillyskyline DOT com.

Either they took him up on his offer, or they found a better photo on their own. Here’s what appeared at the SEPTA online store a short while ago:

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass - 3rd version

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass - 3rd version

You can see that besides the use of what looks to be a more recent photo, the “missing comma” error was also corrected.

Then I refreshed the website a few minutes later and a slightly different pass showed up, this time named “Beer Week Sample Pass final.jpg”:

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass - 4th version

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass - 4th version

Will it really be the FINAL design? Stay tuned…

SEPTA Philadelphia Beer Week Day Pass screwup

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

This past Sunday I posted about the SEPTA Philadelphia Beer Week Day Pass, and how awesome it will be for railfans. Well it seems the pass had a big error, one that slipped by me and almost everyone else. Except for Brad Maule of He noticed that the background image on the pass was of the New York City skyline, and not the Philadelphia skyline.

Hilarity ensued.

A spokesperson for Beer Week went as far as to try to convince a Metro reporter yesterday that the image was of Philadelphia and that it featured City Hall.

“Until we talk to the graphic artist, I’m not going to be able to tell for sure,” said Jerri Williams. “I don’t really recognize [anything] in the background.”


Read all about it on Brad’s website from the link above. (He doesn’t have permalinks to individual posts so you’ll just have to scroll down until you find it.)

Here’s the incorrect pass:

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass

And here’s the corrected pass:

**corrected** SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 day pass

**corrected** SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 day pass

But the fun doesn’t have to end there. In an article on the subject by MSNBC, while referring to the incorrect pass, a claim is made that “You can clearly see the Empire State Building in the background.” Really, now. Because I clearly don’t see the Empire State Building anywhere in that photo. In fact, the photo is of lower Manhattan, not midtown. Way to go, MSNBC…

In case MSNBC edits the article, here’s a screen shot:



Wow again.


Yes, girls in pajamas at Penn Station until 7:00 PM today

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

As promised by NJ TRANSIT and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, there *were* girls in pajamas!


And guys in pajamas.


They were handing out candy and brochures promoting the Philly Overnight® Hotel Package.


I could really feel the love from the “PJ Love Patrol”. And here are the photos to prove it.

The grab and go…

NJT makes move to replace Arrow III rail cars

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Photos: NJT Arrow III cars at Princeton Junction, 12/31/2000

New Jersey Transit has announced a desire to replace their fleet of Arrow III electric multiple unit (EMU) rail cars. The media reports than an RFP has been issued, but I see no evidence of it on the NJT website. NJT also stated a desire to have more EMU sets running on local routes. Today, locomotive-hauled train sets cover some or many local runs.

NJ Transit officials have put out requests for proposals to replace the aging cars with similar cars that are powered by motors in each car instead of being hauled by a locomotive, said Richard Sarles, NJ Transit executive director.

Electric-Multiple Unit cars (EMUs) are better for high-density rail lines with more stops, Sarles said.

“Certain areas need quick acceleration,” Sarles said.

I hope these new EMU cars incorporate at least two elements of SEPTA’s new “Silverliner V” EMU cars:

  1. the railfan window
  2. the railfan window seat

Here’s a Railway Age article from June 2006 that discusses the specs being drawn up for the Arrow III replacements, the Arrow IV, and related dual-mode multiple unit (DMMU) cars.

NJT’s 230 Arrow III electric multiple-units will be replaced with the Arrow IV. A sister vehicle to the Arrow IV will be a “DMMU” (dual-mode multiple unit), which will use the same basic architecture (carbody, trucks, propulsion control, a.c. traction motors, HVAC, door controls, cabs, etc.) as the EMU and share a common “A” car. Both vehicles will be configured as married pairs–the EMU as an A-B set, the DMMU as an A-D (for “diesel”) set. The EMU will have all 8 axles powered; its “B” car will carry pantographs, transformers, and other electrical gear. The DMMU’s “D” car will carry two diesel engine/generator sets but its axles will be non-powered.


Girls in pajamas at Penn Station at 3:00 PM

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

That’s my guess based on the available info. See below:

NJ TRANSIT and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation are partnering to promote the ease of traveling between Philadelphia and New York—via NJ TRANSIT and SEPTA.

NJ TRANSIT and SEPTA recently introduced joint-ticketing options that enable customers to purchase NJ TRANSIT and SEPTA tickets in a single transaction.

To highlight the joint ticket, today, February 10, a pajama-clad street team known as the “PJ Love Patrol” will be on hand in New York Penn Station from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. as part of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s (GPTMC) promotion of the Philly Overnight® Hotel Package.

Photos to be posted later…?

MTA The Map December 2008 editions available now

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Both December 2008 editions of the MTA The Map (Standard and Multilingual) were available for free (as always), as of Friday, at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store at Grand Central Terminal.

Railfan Philly all day for only $9.00 with the SEPTA Beer Pass

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Railfanning Philadelphia’s transit system (SEPTA) got a lot harder recently when the much loved “Day Pass” was replaced with the much hated “Inconvenience Pass”. In short, the Day Pass allowed unlimited trolley, subway, and bus rides, as well as one Regional Rail ride (except to Trenton), but the Inconvenience Pass costs more, and only allows eight (8) rides on buses, trolleys, and subways, and no rides on Regional Rail.

Well for a limited time only, you can railfan Philly all day long for only $9.00 with SEPTA’s 2009 Philadelphia Beer Week Pass!! Instead of only eight (8) rides with the Inconvenience Pass, this Beer Pass gets you unlimited rides on buses, trolleys, and subway, AND unlimited rides on Regional Rail after 9:30 AM. It’s an awesome deal! It’s valid between March 6 and March 15.

Sip Safely with SEPTA using an unlimited, all-day, bus-trolley-rail pass for just $9.00. Valid any one day between March 6 and March 15. Passes are not valid on Regional Rail Trains arriving in Center City before 9:30 AM and are not valid for travel to or from Stations in the State of New Jersey. This pass is valid on SEPTA services, to encourage PBW participants to travel safely, rather than driving from event to event.

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass

SEPTA Philly Beer Week 2009 pass

Love for Wilson Av on the (L)

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Stephanie Holmes relates some funny stories about her experiences using one of the most unique stations in the New York City subway system, the Wilson Avenue station on the Canarsie Line.


Burlington Northern Santa Fe train skewers Cadillac DTS

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

On Friday, January 30, 2009, a car-carrier semi-truck got in the way of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train. Yadda yadda yadda, the train collected an elegant door prize.


For the railfans out there, that’s a General Electric model C44-9W locomotive, number 5005.

Gimbels Passageway restoration is in the 15 Penn Plaza project plans

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Ever wished you could walk underground from the east side of Broadway at Herald Square to the west side of 8th Avenue at Penn Station? You used to be able to, up until around 1990, and in a few years, you may be able to once more.

The draft scope of work (PDF) for the 15 Penn Plaza Project states that a restoration of the Gimbels Passageway (aka the Pennsylvania Passageway) is part of the proposed subway improvements. The Gimbels Passageway is a long shuttered, outside of fare control connection that runs under the south sidewalk of West 33rd Street as part of the basement level of the Manhattan Mall (formerly Gimbels department store) and the Hotel Pennsylvania, the latter of which is being redeveloped as the 15 Penn Plaza Project.

For most people this will mean an out-of-the-elements route to take for walking between the Herald Square transportation services (the 6th Avenue IND subway lines, the Broadway BMT subway lines, and PATH) and Penn Station (Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Rail Road). I don’t know if it will be faster than going outside and walking along 33rd St, but those 33rd St sidewalks get awfully crowded in rush hour. So whether it’s the rain or the crowds that bugs you, the Gimbels Passageway is hopefully coming back to save the day.


The Proposed Project would relocate and significantly upgrade the existing subway entrances on West 32nd and West 33rd Streets and would undertake significant subway improvements, including the re-opening and refurbishing of the passageway under the south side of 33rd Street. The refurbished passageway would be widened to accommodate pedestrian flows between Penn Station/the Seventh Avenue subway lines (1, 2, and 3) and the Sixth Avenue subway lines (B, D, F, N, Q, R, V, and W) and the PATH station, improving pedestrian circulation on the street-level sidewalks. The passageway would provide an alternative to pedestrians traveling along the 33rd Street corridor.

Here is a figure showing the passageway:

Gimbels Passage diagram

I’ve drawn a diagram (see below) showing the longest, outside of fare control, underground walking trip that will be able to be made once the passageway reopens. One will be able to head underground at the BMT subway entrance at the NE corner of 32nd Street and Broadway and not come back above ground until reaching the IND subway stairs on the west side of 8th Avenue at 33rd Street. Of course, there are many other access points along this underground route that will allow you to reach the surface, including at least one new one to be opened midblock along 33rd St between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue.


Even better, if Moynihan Station gets built, you’ll be able to stay indoors and keep walking west another half-block towards 9th Avenue. And if Madison Square Garden gets built on the western half of the block, then maybe you’d be able to stay inside all the way to 9th Avenue! That would be Broadway to 9th Avenue without going outside. C’mon, as the homeless on the (E) train will tell you, being outside is overrated…

Anyhow, the fact that this is in the draft scope is a very good sign. If the project moves forward, the Gimbels Passageway has a good chance of finally reopening.

Update: Stewdio has posted images and a video of what the interior of the reopened Gimbels Passageway may look like.

Photos of the passageway, taken by user “devbeep2” on the forums: