On Taking Septa to School

By Madeline Engel (284)

Every day, Neematallah Yusuff leaves her house at 6:20am to walk ten minutes to the 70 bus stop. If she catches the 6:30am bus, she can get to school by 7:20. Taking the next bus, scheduled at 6:40am, is not an option– “it’s always delayed, all the time”. She often takes the 70 all the way to Fern Rock, then transfers to the Broad Street Line. Once she gets off, Neema–like many other Central students– stops by the hottest restaurant in the area: the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1345 W Olney Ave. From there, she either walks ten minutes to Central or takes the 18 bus. Her entire commute takes about an hour every morning. She is one of the thousands of students who take SEPTA daily to get to Central, and rain or shine, SEPTA is running– which is not to say routes are always smooth and on time.

Delays and mishaps happen daily on any given SEPTA route. Sometimes SEPTA is unexpectedly fast. Chiara Crociata (284) takes the Broad Street Line to school every morning, with a trip that usually takes around forty minutes– but she once got to school in half that amount of time. However, these are rare occurrences, and delays are far more common.  

Savannah Sandhaus (284) once had to wait almost an hour for a bus to go home, and her experience is hardly the most extreme example. Olivia Stepnowska (284) said, “I’ve had the bus just not come before, and I had to walk home”, and Ethan Soto (284) once missed all of homeroom and first period when the Market-Frankford line failed to show up for two hours. Neema had a similar experience going to school one morning. She got to the bus stop at 6:25am with the hope of getting to school early, but the 26 bus had a different agenda. Neema recalled the false hope that the SEPTA app instills in many commuters: “[I stood] there up until 7:40, and I was like ‘no, it’s gonna be here, it’s gonna be here, because [the SEPTA app] kept saying delayed”. She eventually gave up and ordered an Uber– “I had to spend twenty dollars to get to school, and I very barely made it”.

Delays often lead students into unexpected situations in their attempts to make it to school on time. Anna Shashaty (284) recalled her most recent SEPTA delay: “My bus broke down practically in the middle of a highway, then I had to walk across the highway at 6:30 in the morning”. Her detour led her to waiting for twenty minutes outside of CHOP for her next bus.

Recently, administration has been pushing students to be more prompt in coming on time to school, which has made the topic of SEPTA delays all the more relevant. Even though latenesses are supposed to be marked as ‘excused’ when there are delays with trains, buses, or trolleys, most delays go unnoticed by the school. If SEPTA is running late for you, you should call the main office to inform them. However, the best solution to always being on time to school is to budget extra time so that even in the worst-case scenario, it is still possible to scan in by 8:00 am.

Septa is vital to the commuters of Philadelphia, and although its convenience cannot be overstated, students should definitely budget time in case of delays. Most students with relatively simple commutes say to budget twenty minutes in case of delays. However, students who have one or more transfers to make to get to school say to budget around half an hour. Ethan Soto had a different opinion on budgeting time: “I don’t care. I’m leaving at the same time every time; if it’s late, it’s on them. I can’t help it.” 

A bus’s reliability can affect its popularity. For example, even though the 26 bus is a theoretically faster way for Neema to get to school, she stopped taking it out of anger. When asked to elaborate, she said, “every single time I’ve tried to rely on it, it’s disappointed me”. The 18 bus is a favorite of students though. Over 50% of students interviewed rely on it to get to school because of its promptness. Neema said, “I love that bus… If you miss the first one, [the next one] comes in ten minutes; even five minutes some days.”

Do you budget more time now that latenesses can get students onto the academic ineligibility list?

What do you think about the new rules surrounding lateness?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s