SEPTA looks to improve safety at Fox Chase station

Some changes have been made on SEPTA’s Bus Route 18 and others may be in store as a result of a bus accident on a Fox Chase street last November.

Fran Kelly, SEPTA’s assistant general manager for public affairs, said during the monthly meeting of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Town Watch on March 9 that neighborhood residents should be seeing fewer buses sitting in the turnaround loop on Oxford Avenue near Loney Street at any given time. The transit agency essentially reversed the Route 18 schedule so that buses will generally line up at the opposite end of the 11-mile route at Cedarbrook Shopping Plaza in Cheltenham Township.

In addition, Kelly said, SEPTA is hoping to reconfigure the Fox Chase turnaround loop slightly so that buses will have an easier turn to navigate as they enter southbound Oxford Avenue. The agency wants to move a curb and remove a portion of an iron fence in Lions Park next to the turnaround loop. In addition, one curbside parking spot will be removed in front of the park to allow exiting buses better clearance.

A Nov. 2 accident involving an articulated bus and a tractor-trailer with an oversized load prompted the changes. An articulated bus is longer than a standard bus and has two sections connected by a flexible joint that looks like a giant accordion. As one of the buses was exiting the Fox Chase loop early that afternoon, it collided with the northbound tractor-trailer, causing the tractor to crash through the facade of a nearby artist studio. The bus driver and two passengers were hospitalized with non-critical injuries. The truck driver was not injured.

After the crash, SEPTA officials reexamined the loop and determined that the exit is too tight. Articulated buses are necessary for the Route 18 because rider volume has grown dramatically in recent years, Kelly said.

Moving forward, there should be no more than three buses parked in the loop at any given time, Kelly said. Other motorists and nearby businesses can also help the turnaround loop run smoothly by keeping the entrance and exit clear. Delivery trucks and double parkers have been known to cause traffic snarls on Loney Street.

Kelly said he would take the community’s feedback back to SEPTA, which will move forward with the proposed changes. Kelly agreed to report back to the civic group as the plans move forward.

In other meeting business:

• City Councilman Brian O’Neill reported that plans are in place to renovate a child play area in Burholme Park near Ryerss Mansion. There will be new play equipment and a new safety surface, along with lighting. O’Neill is trying to determine when the new equipment can be delivered. If it’s readily available, then the renovations can be completed in the spring before the peak summer season. If the equipment is on backorder, then he will recommend to leave the old equipment in place until next fall so that kids have a place to play during the summer.

O’Neill further reported that new security cameras, lights and sonic security devices have been installed at Fox Chase Recreation Center. The sonic devices emit a high-pitched tone that is so annoying to children and young adults that they avoid the area. Older people generally can’t hear the tone. The devices are turned on at night when the playground is supposed to be unoccupied. O’Neill said that if neighbors see young people in the playground at night, they should notify police or the Town Watch.

In yet another playground project, plans are underway to paint a mural on a wall at the Firefighter Daniel Sweeney Memorial baseball field at Fox Chase Rec, O’Neill said. The design will includes images of Sweeney and representations of all the community groups that use the playground.

• George Wylesol, president of the Friends of Ryerss Museum and Library, invited neighbors to take advantage of the many activities and programs offered at the Ryerss site, including monthly used book exchanges, children’s craft days, stamp collecting meetings, needlecraft programs, educational lectures, a pet’s day, a vintage baseball game, an Easter egg hunt and a Christmas bazaar. For a full list of events, visit www.ryerssmuseum.org.

• Fox Chase Recreation Leader Dennis Gibson distributed a list of activities offered at the facility including sports leagues, summer day camp, dance classes, a weight room, an after-school program and community theater. Call 215–685–0575 for information. ••