NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Citizen Mystery Shopper (Part 9)

SEPTA can sometimes be difficult to navigate for anyone. But how is it for those with disabilities that require a wheelchair?

Several months ago, Citizen editor Larry Platt posed a question we’ve been wondering about ever since: When was the the last time you encountered the city bureaucracy and said to yourself, “Wow, what great customer service?” Since then, we’ve taken a page from private industry and unleashed a team of mystery shoppers to interact with city service providers and report back on their experiences…the good, the bad, and the disfiguring. Stay tuned for more.

Mystery Shopper Test #30: Riding SEPTA while disabled

Method One: The Broad Street Line

Steps Taken: 

  1. Needing to go to a doctor’s appointment on Walnut Street, I take the Broad Street line from the Oregon stop in South Philly. I use the wheelchair accessible elevator to get on the train platform.
  2. At the Walnut- Locust station, the elevator is broken.
  3. I wave down a SEPTA employee for help. She wanders over after a few minutes and says the elevator could take a day to fix.
  4. I call an attendant I hire for daily tasks, and then wait 30 minutes for her to arrive.
  5. The attendant manually carries me and my wheelchair up the steps.
  6. I’m 40 minutes late for my doctor’s appointment.

Time spent: One hour

Result: Not able to complete my trip without outside help—and am late to appointment.

Lightning bolt rating

The Regional Rail

Method Two: The Regional Rail 

Steps Taken: 

  1. To visit a friend in Hatboro, I take SEPTA’s Warminster Line from 30th Street Station. The elevator easily takes me down to the platform.
  2. The train stop in Hatboro has no elevator, so I am forced to ride to the next stop, Warminster.
  3. When the train arrives, the Regional Rail employee needed to put the wheelchair ramp down is nowhere to be seen.
  4. I do a weird jump thing with my wheelchair to bridge the giant gap between platform and train. This time, I’m successful, although sometimes the chair gets stuck.
  5. I take the elevator down to the station, where I meet my friend with an accessible van.

Time spent: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Lightning bolt rating

Takeaway

Overall, taking SEPTA while in a wheelchair requires an intimate knowledge of which stations I can get in and out of—but still does not guarantee I can get where I need to go.

Overall rating

Photo: R. Nial Bradshaw/Flickr

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

@thephilacitizen @@thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
@RebeccaKOtto @MalcolmJenkins We definitely agree that @MalcolmJenkins' column is req-reading for the convos we're… https://t.co/L8x0hPW2Y4 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Should we take on a different approach in our attempt to woo #Amazon to Philadelphia? @platt_larry thinks so. https://t.co/3OOdSwwSKV 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Barbara Matteucci has helped to transform one North Philadelphia school through gardening. https://t.co/ZHTdu09OC3 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
“"Shut the front door!” Chef Anthony scrapes every bean out of the giant bowl and we do a happy dance." https://t.co/TWq68IwqUY 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Save the date & help us celebrate 2 years of civic engagement from proactive change-makers like you! #Philly https://t.co/0T4IhCMXMB 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Most people say let's give them a 2nd chance but often we don't give them a 1st chance." More from @MalcolmJenkins https://t.co/TsZSFUn9iN 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
We're excited for our Mural Arts tour tomorrow with @JaneSGolden. Become a member today & never miss an event again! https://t.co/JyFtMWvDW3 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
The @Eagles vs @Giants & All-Pro @MalcolmJenkins talks to NFL officials about criminal justice & the Clean Slate Ac… https://t.co/ps9kcmPR3F 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"It’s not just about who is making the pitch—it’s also about what that pitch is." @platt_larry on our #Amazon pitch. https://t.co/3OOdSwwSKV 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
A content partnership w/ @SafeKidsStories finds a life recipe that feeds the body and the soul. #Philly #foodies https://t.co/TWq68IwqUY 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Related Stories