EDITORIAL: A Look At The DRPA

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Odds are, when asked what they know about the Delaware River Port Authority, few will be the dwellers in the Delaware Valley who can answer that question. The handful who do are likely to say something like, “It runs the bridges” – and that’s about all.
The Philadelphia Public Record is pleased to present a special supplement in this issue which will give our readers a better understanding of DRPA, its role in the economic life of this city, and its contributions to rider convenience and safety.
The Delaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey is a regional transportation agency serving the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross Bridges. All four bridges are part of the E-ZPass Electronic Toll Collection Network.
The Port Authority Transit Corp., a subsidiary of DRPA, runs the High-Speed line. DRPA also owns the RiverLink Ferry and the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal.
DRPA traces its roots to 1919, when leaders from Pennsylvania and New Jersey began planning for a bridge across the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden. When built, that bridge, now known as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, was the longest suspension bridge in the world. More than 80 years after its opening, it remains a key transportation artery and a regional landmark.
DRPA is self-sustaining, operating without tax support. It is administered by a 16-member Board of Commissioners, eight each from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They are appointed by their respective Governors, except the Auditor General and Treasurer of Pennsylvania who are ex-officio members. All Commissioners serve without compensation. All DRPA Commissioners also serve as PATCO’s Board of Directors.
Since it is a creature of political parentage, DRPA periodically finds itself the subject of criticisms. Despite these, the dedication of all those associated with it remains marked by the dedication to serve the public interest.
That commitment is underlined in a recent decision by DRPA to use a Federal grant to add eight officers specially trained to spot trouble for commuters on the platforms, at the parking lots and on the trains of the ever-busier PATCO High-Speed line.
Congressman Rob Andrews, who announced the grant, said, “Transit is absolutely essential to our economy. It can’t function without transit and that transit cannot function without safety.”
The DRPA security force is now up to 160 officers, working in uniform and plain clothes.
Riders careening over the bridges or riding the rails or taking the ferry links should know their safety remains at the top of the priority list of this important agency.
We hope you will enjoy this special supplement with as much pleasure as we had putting it together.
KUDOS GO TO JANNIE…
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell who each year uses her birthday to celebrate with the hundreds, and often thousands, who live in the city’s shelters and on the streets. Over the many years she has done this, she has become the spokeswoman for a class of Philadelphians often ignored by the bulk of citizens who are busy tending to themselves.
She has literally become a saint to these unfortunates. Her keeping their plight in front of the public keeps our consciences irritated, to the point we may eventually see government fully address their needs.
…AND TO BUTKOVITZ
We pleased to note the major media in this town are beginning to acknowledge the excellent work City Controller Alan Butkovitz has been doing through his tenure. They are beginning to understand his audits of various departments and are no longer disregarding his efforts to save every penny possible.
Several of his audits have uncovered irregularities in departments that should, by now, be corrected. These corrections will save additional needed monies yearly.
We are also proud of the fact we make it a point to ensure his messages get across to the general public. He is truly a working City Controller, keeping an eye on and helping eliminate waste in government.

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