Monday, January 10, 2011

a letter to SEPTA (on playing music without headphones on the train)

Streetcar, University Ave


I moved to West Philadelphia in August for school and have become a regular user of SEPTA. I enjoy the ease and convenience of using public transit, but I've become increasingly frustrated by the number of riders I see playing music without headphones on the bus, trolley or subway. It's especially surprising to me because in suburban Maryland, where I lived before moving here, this behavior was nonexistent on our Metro. It was not only forbidden by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, but discouraged by other riders because it violated the norms they set among themselves for subway etiquette. This kind of behavior is not only rude but disrespectful to other passengers and to the public transit system as a whole. Yet in five months of living here and riding SEPTA I have never seen a driver or other employee do anything to stop it.

Your job is to get me around the city, not to teach manners. But I have a car and a bike, and I'm not afraid to use them. You need choice riders like me to keep SEPTA running, yet the longer I have to contend with annoyances like this, the more likely it is I'll abandon your service altogether.

I understand that SEPTA is underfunded and doesn't always have the means to deal with issues like this. That said, the existing solution to disruptive passenger behavior - posting signs in subway cars - clearly hasn't done the job. I look forward to hearing from someone in your organization about what measures you're taking to end this behavior once and for all.

Daniel Reed
SEPTA Customer
Master of City Planning Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

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