SEPTA is all over the news these days. When they're not in talks with union heads staving off possible strikes or renaming transit hubs, they're being propositioned to completely revamp the look and safety of the platforms of the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines. TIS Inc., a Korean-based company, will pitch platform screen doors to SEPTA in a meeting on Oct. 30, Councilman At-Large David Oh (R) told Metro. The kicker? KIS Inc. will pay to install them in order to get in the U.S. marketplace, with Philly as its litmus test.
Platform screen doors are exactly what they sound like, barriers that separate the platform from the train tracks. TIS Inc. says that it will improve platform safety and lighting while also (eventually) adding opportunities for ad revenue, since they're essentially used as glass billboards. They would be installed in 10 stations at first and system-wide should everyone be happy with the arrangement.
Let's rewind a second. There has to be a catch if it's free, right? Here's what Metro says about that:
"TIS uses a financial model based on advertising. The company would manufacture and install the screens at their own costs, and make their money back from advertising on digital monitors affixed on the screens. And, Oh said, after the company made its money back, it would turn the screens over to SEPTA, which can then profit from the advertising."
Councilman Oh envisions a situation where the system succeeds and TIS Inc. locates their US business operations in Philly. According to the popular transit blog Sic Transit Philadelphia, platform screen doors are the bees knees:
"They often go hand-in-hand with driverless systems, since PSDs require a signaling system that can stop the train in exactly the same spot (to within an inch or two) every single time, and also remove the possibility of a person falling, jumping, or being pushed onto the tracks, which removes the necessity of having a person watching out to apply a (probably futile) emergency brake."
Hold on a second. Driverless systems, isn't SEPTA on the verge of a strike? How would the unions go for this? Sic Transit explains: "However, automation, even driverless operation in daily service, does not mean the elimination of all train driver positions. For example: trips in, out, and within train yards are typically always handled by humans. Also, TWU leadership might want to talk to veteran operators among their rank-and-file about the psychological toll of being at the controls of a train involved in a passenger fatality incident."
To recap: Improved safety and lighting, future advertising revenue, possibly adding national business operations, less strain on the drivers and all of this while more frequently and timely trains. Yeah, we'll definitely keep you posted to see how this shakes out.
· EXCLUSIVE: SEPTA platforms could see major change [Metro]
· Platform Screen Doors NOW [Sic Transit Philadelphia]