Well, this morning was interesting.

Downed lines on the train track

Everyday I take the Broad street subway to Suburban Station, where I catch the Norristown line to Norristown, and from there a work shuttle to the office. Yes, it’s a long commute. And sometimes its fine, but other times…… today, after passing through Conshohocken, one stop away from Norristown, the lights flickered. Not too unusual. But then the train stopped. And a train roared by us going the other way, with a huge rattling noise, and some snapping cables hitting windows. Yup, the lines were pulled down. The train going the other way had snagged the overhead wires, and pulled down about half a mile of overhead catenary wire. According to a Philly.com article, the overhead lines were installed in 1933, and 15 of the 19 power substations were built in 1931 or earlier. Great. No wonder Septa is so awesome.

Commuters on the move

Of course with live wires all over the place, we weren’t allowed off the train at first. Classically, a pregnant lady was on my car of the train, and very vocal… “I’m 5 months pregnant, I can’t stay on this train for 3 hours!” Luckily, not too long after we stopped, the conductors (who looked more frantic than any train conductors I’ve ever seen) told us we could wait on the train for an undetermined amount of time, or we could walk a half mile back to the Conshohocken station, where shuttles would come by at some point to get us to another station. So off the train, for an exodus down the tracks. Two trains full of people trekking along. I met up with another colleague from the work shuttle, we chatted about Dune as we walked (I’ve been reading it on the commute, and its come up a few times) and kept a look out for other folks from the office.  We walked the tracks by crushed bleached deer bones and random broken glass. One woman fell and hurt her knee, some folks with medical training stayed to help her, and called an ambulance. Once we got to the station, my fellow-Dune-reading friend and I wandered around a bit looking for the shuttle and looking for other workers. There was no sign of the shuttle, no one knew when it would show up, and the work shuttle from Norristown wasn’t going to wait. So when eventually we ended up a group of 4 displaced work shuttle riders, we called a cab and made our way to the office.

So yeah. When they canceled the late shuttle last week, I thought it was time to get a car, as much as I hated the idea of it. This morning reaffirmed it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate driving. I’m going to hate parking. I’m going to hate traffic, and I’m going to hate that I finished paying off the second of my three school loans last month just to continue paying the same amount of money for a car. But I’m going to love not relying on Septa. The subway stinks, literally… it smells like the rotting death of something. It is dirty and the ground is still sticky and muddy from the rain 4 days ago. The regional rail is late a good 2/3rds of the time, and completely shuttle-missing late at least once every two months. Yeah, its great to read, its great to be able to knit. It’s nice to meet some of my co-workers and commiserate about the trek. But Septa- You Suck. You need to be taken to the ground and re-made. You aren’t making enough money because you don’t have enough riders because you’re completely unreliable. You’re ticket booth sales people are cranky and nasty (though the commuting-time conductors are usually really really nice!) and the high-speed drivers are totally unpredictable- muttering stop announcements and speeding past platforms or driving insanely ridiculously slow. Fellow riders are rude or walk s…o…. s….l….o….w…. that I miss my connection by seconds. You change schedules with no announcement or notifications. You notify of delays 20 minutes past the time it would be any help, if you notify at all. Your system is flawed. Completely and utterly flawed, and I will not miss you, no matter how bad the traffic gets.