Gloria “Smooches” Cartagena
Resident, president of Somerset Neighbors for Better Living, and NKCDC Community Connector
1. How does the closure of Somerset Station affect you and people in the neighborhood? What challenges may you face in accessing transportation now?
As far as the closure’s effects, I would say it’s a 50-50 split between some people. People are affected by it because they depend on SEPTA to get to work, and also with getting kids to their schooling. Some others are thinking there’s an opportunity [to address] the issues at hand, like [opioid use] and just hanging in the station, which is understandable.
At least, if you’re going to close it down, provide a shuttle service so we can get to and from Huntingdon Station. Because, mind you, we still have to walk through what we call a “war zone” to get to [Huntingdon Station]. So, I agree with the closure about 50-50. I also don’t agree with it because the other side of Somerset Station was closed last summer. I live here, I see everything and understand the need for cleaning and safety — but how long are [they] going to close that station for?
Editor’s note: During the closure, SEPTA has put in place a temporary service plan to allow customers to use the Route 3 Bus – with a free transfer – to connect to and from the Market-Frankford Line at Allegheny or Huntingdon Stations. There’s no shuttle bus service at this time. You can read more of SEPTA’s responses regarding the reopening of Somerset Station, here.
2. What are the conditions like at Somerset Station and on the Market-Frankford Line? How do they affect you?
If you see here, there’s homelessness, drug issues, drug dealings, and everything else. It’s already harsh, but compared to other parts of the Market-Frankford Line, it’s another story. [In other parts,] you see the cleanliness. You see the motions of people coming and going and nothing stopping it. This [Somerset] Station has been closed for maybe one or two days. One or two days is not going to be enough to fix these issues. So, how long are [they] going to close the station? Just give us an estimation so we can prepare ourselves.
Editor’s note: SEPTA told Kensington Voice they expect to reopen the station within a month of the initial closing, and will provide more information the week of March 29.
3. What kinds of solutions could be implemented to create safe and reliable transportation in Kensington?
Shuttle services. If they have a shuttle heading down to Huntingdon Station, and another shuttle heading to Allegheny Station.
4. Should there be a community-led advisory board, made up of stakeholders like the City, SEPTA, Kensington residents, civic associations, nonprofits, and businesses, that comes up with a plan for reopening the Somerset Station and provides long term solutions to the problems that led to its closure?
Absolutely. We should all come together. I always say, “The more the people, the greater it gets.” We’re all here for the same fight. There shouldn’t be any question about it.
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Editors: Zari Tarazona, Claire Wolters / Designer: Henry Savage
To read more community responses, click here.