Friday, June 10, 2005

The Route 15 Trolley Debacle

Yesterday, 9 June, and today, Carla Anderson from the Philadelphia Daily News ran pieces about the continued pain of getting the Route 15 Girard Avenue trolley line up and running again. Anderson is the DN's "Urban Warrior" and does a fine job of shedding light upon those in the city that would like Philadelphia to remain a perpetually confused underdog.

The focus of the story was Democratic Ward Leader Carol Campbell. She is quite powerful in the city's Democratic circles and is the secretary of the Democratic City Committee. Campbell has spearheaded the delay of this massive project to restore trolley service to Girard Avenue. The issue at hand, for those unfamiliar with the issue, is parking along North 59th Street outside Callowhill Depot, where the trolleys for Route 15 are stationed. Since the trolleys stopped running back in 1992, residents have enjoyed more parking along both sides of this street. Restoring trolley service requires elimination of parking along one side of the block to allow trolleys clear exit from the car barn.

There are many guilty parties here, as Anderson states in her article, but as a resident of the city, this is one more bag over the head for Philadelphians.

It is astounding that ward politics are left to be so strong today in a city in the 21st Century. As voters and residents, is that what we truly want? I think this leads to the ongoing issue of apathy in local political affairs.

Many believe that the reputation of the Philadelphia City government is so marred by past embarrassments and malfeasance, that residents cannot imagine taking part in such a troubled arena. Then there are those that seem to buck the system from time-to-time, people that irritate those in the political machine that would rather the public have no idea how incompetent some city government officials remain. I will digress from naming who people on either side are as I am sure many reading this will have their own ideas.

Route 15 promises to be a hallmark of positive change in the city. It stretches across a palette of communities that reveal all of Philadelphia's dirty laundry and all of its promise. Port Richmond, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Fairmount, Parkside, Carroll Park, all the way to Haddington in West Philadelphia. It was once a line so busy that more transfers were issued to riders than on any other transit line. From the windows of the trolleys to come, one will see a city rebounding and a city still stuck in urban ills like drug dealing, decimated streets of homes, and apathy.

This reinvestment in this great street will only help cement the progress of some communities, and perhaps spark positive change in others where none could have been previously foreseen.

If you care about this issue, and about how our politicians handle the final realization of this $90 million project, talk to everyone who will listen about it. And remember come election time who took a stand, or who put their heads in the sand.

An Urban Warrior reader wrote, "Your $82 million trolley screw-up story is a poster child for what really kills this poor city of ours: Bad politics well implemented."

He couldn't have put it any better.


Blogger J. Blobbom said...

R. Charles: Thanks for this post. The Route 15 trolley problem just burns me up. Can't anybody do something?


12 June, 2005 20:48  

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