SEPTA struggles

“Okay everybody, here is your benchmark project instructions.”

The day after Ms. Gasser gave us the project, we brainstormed some more ideas and came up with two inspirations for our city. We were going to take some inspiration from Philadelphia and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors. We chose Philadelphia because that is where we live and we wanted to use its street systems to help us design our own. Elon Musk was going to help us with naming our city and its buildings/streets. We had two weeks to finish this project in its entirety.

On January 9, 2018, we decided to walk around center city after school to look at the street system in Philadelphia. We were gonna take a few SEPTA buses around center city and take some notes on what we noticed. Our first bus trip went almost flawlessly and we got some great notes on how our cities streets work. On the first bus, we rode up and down Market street a few times to make sure we didn't miss anything on our notes and then the bus broke down. The person next to us was really angry. He was a twenty-something-year-old guy in business attire. He shouted at the top of his lungs.

“I’m late for my interview dammit!”

After what felt like forever, they let us off the bus and a tow truck came and took it off the street.

Our second trip went worse. When we got on the bus, it wasn’t very crowded, but after the first two stops it felt like the entire city was on the bus.

“Hey stop bumping into me. Thank you,” someone said.

“It’s not my fault this bus is so crowded,” they replied.

It was impossible to take any notes on there because we couldn’t see and we didn’t have enough room to pull out our phones to take notes on. At our last stop, we decided to get off and walk back to the original stop.

In the freezing cold temperatures, it was a painful walk back. Every few blocks we had to jump inside a store for a few minutes, but we made it back to the stop alive and now we were going to get on our final bus for the day.

This was the worst trip out of the three. Mostly because I got us lost, but partly because it was still cold outside. While waiting for a bus to take us back to SLA, it started snowing, then we saw a bus come down the street. I told Ari and Matthew that it was our bus and they followed me on without checking the bus number. It took us maybe 10 stops before we realized that we were on the wrong bus. We hopped off the bus urgently and tried to figure out where we were. Our phones came out of our pockets without hesitation. We found out we were only a 15-minute walk from SLA so that’s what we decided to do.

The snow, wind, and temperature made the walk brutal.  When we finally got back to SLA we were freezing cold and covered in snow, so we took a break and decided to warm ourselves up before we looked over our notes.

The most important note that we had was that there were no unnecessary streets. Every street was used and helped the flow of traffic get through the city quickly. Also, most of the smaller streets flowed into bigger streets to direct traffic to the main streets. So, when we designed the road system of our city project, we used a minimalist approach. We used as few streets as possible and we only had a few main streets, but every small street led into the main street.

Even after getting lost, the freezing temperatures and the broken down bus studying the street system in Philadelphia allowed us to create a beautifully designed city for our project. The journey around Philadelphia allowed us to prevent the problems we faced when we designed our city. We created a street system that would, in theory, prevent people from getting lost, long waits on broken down buses, and overcrowded buses.