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Alleged SEPTA rape brings hard questions

It’s hard for me to understand how a woman was raped on a train on SEPTA’s Market Frankford Elevated line while passengers watched and did nothing.

They didn’t call police. They didn’t intervene. They simply allowed it to happen. And, while it’s easy to blame the passengers for their inaction, my question is simply this: Why can’t we travel safely on a public transit system with a $1.53 billion budget?

In fact, I’ve got a few more questions. Why, when the fares are steadily increasing, is it a matter of life and death for a woman to ride the El train? Why can’t a woman get on the El with confidence, knowing that she’ll arrive at her destination without being raped? Why do the suburban stations in SEPTA’s systems look like palaces while some city stations look abandoned?

And, maybe the biggest question of all. If SEPTA knows, like all of us do, that the El can sometimes be filled with homeless and addicted people who use the train to move through Kensington’s drug-filled streets, why not put more cops on the El? Especially at 11 pm, when this rape allegedly took place?

Because if the transit police have a $23.1 million budget, and it’s not being spent to secure the most dangerous parts of the system, then where is the money, and when will it be redirected to the places where it’s needed?

I’m grateful that a SEPTA employee noticed the attack taking place and called police. That’s what allowed them to arrest a suspect at the 69th Street terminal.

Police believe the suspect is homeless, and he has been charged with

rape, aggravated indecent assault and related counts, according to Delaware County court records.

If he is guilty, I hope he gets all that he deserves. But the people deserve more security on SEPTA, so nothing like this ever happens again.

Photo: Goodnight Train By. Elizabeth K. Joseph

Creative Commons License 

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