Those who ride SEPTA are a bit safer, as of Wednesday.
During an 11 a.m. press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Center City, Philadelphia, SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel debuted the “SEPTA Transit Watch” app.
According to SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch, the app will allow riders to contact authorities directly through the app by either voice call or through a messenger.
It is something that’s been in the works for some time now.
“It’s something that we’ve been looking at for a while now and we’ve looked at what several other transit agencies have done,” Busch said during a phone interview with WBCB. “We were looking for a way for people to use their phones to contact police through a phone or their apps. We wanted to find a way to contact them more directly.”
Busch referenced Boston, Atlanta, Dallas and Toronto – all cities that have a similar app to “SEPTA Transit Watch.”
When folks want to send a message, they can choose whether they would like to provide contact information or remain anonymous. The issue they are reporting is sent reaches the eyes of a transit dispatcher in 20 seconds. That dispatcher will then make the call to contact transit police or the local police authority.
“We think it’s going to be a valuable tool for our riders,” Busch said before highlighting a key feature of the app. “There could be an ongoing two-way dialogue with the person who sent the information and the police so they can remain safe in the situation.”
The company Elerts, which has created a few apps like this one for other agencies, created the app. It is free and available to download at the Apple and Google Play stores.
“It is live and it’s been available for a few weeks but we were testing to make sure everything was working before we brought it out publicly,” Busch said. “ We expect it to start increasing as we go along here.”