Looking north from the Schuylkill River Trail at South Street (Instagram/@lorrainejmcleod)

Fixing SEPTA apps requires ‘massive’ culture shift, insiders say 

Waiting for public transit that never shows? SEPTA officials say they’re working on better real-time tracking, so apps don’t show “ghost buses” and subways have countdown clocks. But progress has been slow.

Why? Partly because SEPTA’s culture has focused heavily on operations while giving short shrift to customer service, agency insiders tell Meir Rinde.

Digital signage that could be used for countdown clocks was installed in SEPTA subway stations starting in 2021. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

Made in Philly, ‘The Office’ mural debuts in Scranton

West Philly and Scranton have a meet-cute in the form of a huge new mural celebrating “The Office,” just completed in the northeastern Pa. city where the fictional workplace was located. 

Hand-painted in Philadelphia by artist Kala Hagopian, whose work is found all over Philly, the 86- x 27-foot mural includes lifelike portraits of the popular mockumentary’s characters, Meir Rinde reports — all created with the actors’ and studios’ express permission. 

Philadelphia artist Kala Hagopian puts finishing touches on “The Office” mural in Scranton, supported by NBC and Peacock with the authorization of all 17 actors. (Cinthya Vong/XXII MEDIA)

RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

• About that planned Latino town hall: Cherelle Parker’s campaign issued a release calling it “fake,” saying the last-minute invite came from a Republican ward leader. Organizers tell Jordan Levy it’s still happening — but there’s no clear host. [Billy Penn]

• At the same time as developer Ori Feibush is suing Council President Clarke, a local woman is suing his company OCF Realty for housing discrimination, saying her rental voucher was declined at all 3,000 OCF properties. [Tribune$/WHYY’s PlanPhilly]

• The Philly School District is piloting an AI chatbot to improve responsiveness to parent and guardian questions. It will not be the primary mode of communication, Supt. Watlington maintains, just supplemental. [KYW]

• La Salle University sold two North Philly residence halls to social impact developer 4S Bay, which plans to turn the buildings into affordable senior homes and space for housing-insecure college students. [Biz Journal$/La Salle]

• A Philly tech company‘s haptic suit that translates music into vibrations is being adopted at venues like NYC’s Lincoln Center, to make events accessible for deaf or hearing-impaired guests. [Not Impossible/NYT unlocked]

• From the Daycare to Castellanos’s fashion tips to everything about Garrett Stubbs, the Phillies have the best team chemistry — and it’s powering wins. Also, vibes are very real, says a Temple prof. [Billy Penn x 2]


The historic former Family Court building on the Ben Franklin Parkway is being renovated as the new home for Philly’s African American Museum, and Mayor Kenney joins PIDC and city officials to announce the project’s development partners (2 p.m.).


🧁 Learn the secrets of amazing buttermilk biscuits at a Mt. Airy cooking class with chefs Valerie Erwin and April McGreger. $25 includes drinks and snacks. (6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31)

🏞️ For the first time, The Oval extends its events schedule through Labor Day weekend, with a free movie night, live music fest, pop-up play, and community yoga. (Friday to Sunday, Sept. 1-3) 

💃🏽 Celebrate Brazilian Independence Day at a free outdoor festival on Penn’s Landing, with food, drinks, and capoeira and samba performances. (1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4) 

💸 Billy Penn is proud to headline the inaugural Philly Story Fest, joining journalists from media outlets around Philadelphia to tell the city’s best stories on stage at the Bok. Tickets are $25. (7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5)