April 02, 2021
SEPTA's Somerset Station in Kensington is reopening next week after a two-week closure to make repairs, clean the excessive amounts of trash and human waste that had collected and address the frequent drug use that takes place inside.
The station, at the three-way intersection of Somerset Street, D Street and Kensington Avenue, will open Monday with transit police officers on standby, a street-level police booth and 60 security guards assigned throughout the Market-Frankford line to keep riders safe.
"We will reopen with a new security plan, and continue working with the city, community groups and other organizations on ways to connect members of the vulnerable population with the resources that they need," SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards said Thursday.
The station closed last month for emergency maintenance and repair work to clean urine, human waste, discarded needles and other debris, SEPTA said. Somerset's elevators had stopped working due to damage caused by urine, discarded needles and other trash and will still take months to repair, the transportation authority said.
Work has been completed to reinforce stairways and passenger crossovers. Crews also have installed enhanced lighting and new signage and painted walls and other areas.
The Inquirer reported the total cost of the repairs and cleaning, including the ongoing elevator work, was $1 million.
"Closing a station is an action of last resort, however, it was necessary to ensure we could address these critical needs and provide a safe environment for customers and employees,” Richards said.
Kensington residents who rely on the station for commuting for the health and safety concerns to be completely addressed there needs to be a focus on the root of those issues.
"We need to make sure to address the problems that led to the closure in the first place, or else once it opens, it's just going to close again," Bill McKinney, executive director of the New Kensington Community Development Corp., told to NBC10.
Police at the Somerset Station will work with social outreach specialists to connect substance abuse or behavioral health services to those who need it, and SEPTA said the station will become a model for dealing with these issues at its other stations. SEPTA has already dispatched inspectors to Allegheny Station for repair and maintenance needs.