22 October 2011


I briefly mentioned this incident on Twitter two weeks ago, but I also spoke to SEPTA (Philly's mass transit system) customer service and they advised that I file an online complaint.  I took their advice, and I filled out the online form.

This is what I entered in the space where I describe the incident:

"During the ride, the driver kept reading a book, which I do not think is safe for a trolley operator to be doing while operating a trolley full of passengers, even if underground.  The book appeared to be an employee manual of some kind, as she kept reading aloud a passage regarding something being due the Sunday after schedules come out and how this isn't fair, especially to Overbrook operators.  First, this is a safety issue for her to be reading while operating the trolley.  Second, I think it is extremely inappropriate to be discussing company policies and procedures in that kind of public forum when passengers can hear (I was three rows back on the right side).

"When I attempted to take a picture of her reading (for proof to attach to an email to SEPTA), she saw me and asked her friend, "Why is that Chinese lady taking my picture?"  He said, "Want me to go make her wipe it off?" and they laughed.  First, I am not Chinese -- I am Korean.  I do not expect that the average person will know my ethnic background by looking at me, but it is extremely rude and insensitive for her to make assumptions like that.  I believe that this issue should be addressed with her, as well.

"I also think that SEPTA employees should not allow their friends to block ingress/egress to the trolley.  There were several times when people were entering and exiting the trolley at the same stop, but they could not do so at the same time because the operator's friend would not move from his spot.  In turn, this slowed down the trip as people entering would have to wait for people exiting, then the guy would move to the other side, etc.

"Thank you for your attention to this matter."

This past week, I received the following reply:

"Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and please accept our apologies for the actions and inappropriate comments of this operator.  SEPTA operators are required to direct their full attention to the task at hand - providing a safe ride.  In addition, operators - like  any other SEPTA employee - are expected to perform their duties with a level of professionalism.

"Your report is being forwarded to Management in the Elmwood District of the Surface Transportation Division.  The information that you have provided will be used to identify the operator cited.  Once positive ID is established, appropriate action will be taken."

(I had provided other information on the online form about the route I had taken, the time I had boarded, where I had boarded, etc.  Thanks to sending a text just as I boarded, I was able to give an EXACT time of boarding.  lol)

I am quite pleased with the response that I received, and I do feel that my complaint is being taken seriously.  I am also glad that this route is not my regular route, as my mom told me "Well, when you don't get picked up for work anymore, you'll know why."  But I told her it wasn't my regular trolley since it was a random trolley I took into the city from work.  Ha!


  1. Min, I just wanted to thank you for such a heartfelt and thoughtful review of LITTLE GALE GUMBO at Fresh Fiction.

    I so appreciate you taking the time to both read and review my book--and couldn't be more thrilled that you enjoyed it.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend,
    Erika Marks