This post on better SEPTA rail line names from Michael Noda is a must-read for transit fans, whether you agree with his conclusion or not.
One issue impacting transit ridership is of course how much money it gets from the state for operations, but another equally important issue is how easy it is for people to understand the transit system. The line names matter. For instance, how many more disgruntled car commuters could SEPTA attract if it made the trade-off with driving clearer:
The ex-R6 Manayunk/Norristown Line should stop trying to use its name to recruit barhoppers and start using it to recruit sad and angry car commuters, and redub itself the Schuylkill Line. That ought to be a giant flashing sign to people that if they don’t enjoy the parking lot that is I-76, in both directions, in any daylight hour, then this train is the civilized alternative.
Easy as it is to villainize the buffoons in Harrisburg for our transit woes, in general I prefer to focus on what SEPTA and city government could do better on their own over what our state lawmakers could do better because 1. the political difficulty setting for getting stuff changed is lower, and 2. SEPTA does some inexplicable things that make its services unnecessarily inconvenient or expensive like the horrible airport service to Center City. The option to make our lives better by minimizing self-derp at the local level is very under-appreciated.