The Perfect Focus

Finding focus in a blurry world…

Orientation and Mobility: SEPTA Regional Rail – Part 2

After we arrived at Market Street Station, we took a moment to look around. The train platform area is very large. Elaine took time to explain how the station was setup. There are two sides, in-bound and out-bound, with two tracks each (a total of 4 tracks), and an A-Section and B-Section. Depending on your destination, you need to be in either A-Section or B-Section and on Track 1, 2, 3, or 4. It’s really not too hard to understand, because one side is always IN, and the other side is always OUT. All the trains are also color-coded.

10_SEPTA reg rail car_SeptaWe identified the track numbers; they are clearly marked in huge letters above the trains stop area. I can read them with little trouble. We walked the length of the platform and located the A-Section and B-Section steps that lead to the main level of the station and all the shops above.

We went to the second level and looked around, again a very large open area, with shops and steps on the outside. Some areas of the station in this level are poorly lit. This is unsettling to me, because it’s even harder for me to see. Using the stations electronic signage is useless to me because of the way the LED’s are setup. By the time I get close enough to read a sign, the LED’s are no longer at a suitable viewing angle and they disappear. So much for using the schedule board.

We located the restrooms, newsstands, and small flower shop. These are good landmarks. We also noticed the entrance to The Gallery, an area of the station that opens to the major shopping store area above; a major attraction of the station.

Elaine explained how the station covered three city blocks underground from 10th Street to 12th Street. And we located the steps to venture up to street level. We did walk around some of the building at street level. The noise of traffic and the volume of people was a bit overwhelming. However, a street level lesson would come later. So we headed back into the station.

Elaine sent me around to locate different areas and the landmarks we saw. We also took the time to talk to customer service and see when the next train would be back to return home and Norristown Transportation Center. That being the 2:17, Track 1, Section A.

This concluded our lesson for the day. So I found the section I was to wait in and Elaine snuck off to blend in with the crowd and observe. Obviously she had to ride the train home with me but by blending in and observing it allows me to make my own decisions.

As I waited for the train, a large group of older ladies descended down the steps and milled around in front of me. I thought I was about to get swept up with a group of church ladies or something. One of them called my name! Very perplexed and wondering who the hell could it be… I knew the voice, but drew a blank on the face, as I often do… I come to find that it was Mrs. Landis, one of my former Pottstown Middle School teachers. Of all the people you’d never expect to meet, never in my life would I have thought about meeting her in the middle of Philly – at a train platform. She was in town with about 30 other retired Pottstown teachers (the large group) for an art tour and was heading home. Like me, to Norristown Transportation Center, then driving.

I explained to her what I was up to, and she was impressed, and proud that I’m getting out and about… The train pulled in, and we where off… I grabbed a seat near the front; the car was kind of full so Mrs. Landis took the seat next to me. At least now I’d have some one to talk to on the way home; and we did!

The rest of the trip was uneventful. As the train pulled into NTC, I said goodbye to Mrs. Landis and I left in a hurry with Elaine to help guide me to the bus, the connection time was less then 8 minutes! If I’d miss the bus, I’d be stuck at NTC for another hour!

She rushed me to the bus and I headed home. Still baffled of all things to see a former teacher of mine on the train!

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Orientation and Mobility: SEPTA Regional Rail – Part 1

Sorry for neglecting you guys again. Orientation and Mobility this past week was fun, and kind of scary. As you can tell from the title of this post, I “graduated” to SEPTA Rail travel.

10_SEPTA reg rail car_SeptaThis was my first EVER trip on a train or to a train station… EVER! Far be it from the little things that amuse folks like me that have never traveled before. I’d happily make a trip to just go sit on a blog friends couch to simply say I made the trip! – I’m a little crazy I know.

The trip started like all others I have been on for the past few weeks. Catch the SEPTA 93 bus here in town and ride it all the way to Noristown Transpertation Center (NTC). But Elaine was not meeting me at the bus this time; it was up to me to navigate across the NTC (not really a short walk and across traffic) to meet her at the SEPTA Train platform at NTC, to catch the 11:17AM R6 train to Market Street Station; one of the first main stops along the line.

Meeting Elaine at the station platform, she was happy and I was relieved to have arrived in one peace. She told me when the train was coming, and where I was to ask to get off. She gave me my SEPTA Training Pass (cool pass that allows O&M students like me to ride for free with an instructor). She told me to mind my first step up because this platform was not level with the train, and it’s kind of a big one. And like bus rides to let the conductor know to please announce my stop and to make sure this was actually the R6 train!

With a loud squeal and a hiss, the train pulls in. A rush of people flood to get on. Up the steps and make a right I went. The interior was very nice, with plush seats and well lit, a row of three seats on one side and two on the other. I went about half way down and plopped in. Elaine snuck off further away, but still in the same car to observe.

With a toot-toot and a hum, the train was off with in a minute. The conductor made his way down collecting tickets. I showed him my pass with little fuss (some times drivers fuss!) and ask him to announce Market Street Station… no problem sir.

The train ride was about 40-minutes to Market Street Station and I sat back to enjoy the view. The most notable landmark this line went past was Temple University; I could look out and see the football field as we passed. COOL!

We arrived at Market Street Station, and the conductor announced the stop, by then the train was full of people and students, and a flood of people and me, made the mass exit to the platform. I stepped off to the side and waited for Elaine so we could continue the lesson in and around the station.

To be continued…

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