As 2018 draws to a close, it’s a good time to look back on the last year, to take stock of accomplishments and missed opportunities. Philly’s certainly had plenty of both this year. It’s also a moment when we can be aspirational, when we can think ahead about what would make our city stronger and better in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Earlier this month, we posed this question to Philadelphians, including readers of the Inquirer and Philly.com: What is the most important change the Philadelphia region needs to see in 2019?
Here are some of the most interesting responses.
Reduce the poverty rate
The biggest thing that needs to change in Philadelphia is the poverty rate. As the rest of the country is moving up slightly, Philadelphia is falling further into poverty, according to the most recent statistics. The city does a great job putting on parades and other large events, and the restaurant scene is always evolving for the better, but if you are only as strong as your weakest link, then Philadelphia cannot be the world-class city it aspires to be. This problem will take much longer than a year to solve, but we need to start now, and we need to see measurable results. — Marc Taub, Broomall
Elect an entirely new City Council
The best way to see some real and measurable changes in 2019 is to get out and vote. That’s how we can send a loud, collective, and clear message to all the incumbent City Council members that we need to sanitize and disinfect. All of City Council needs to go, or else the citizens of Philadelphia will continue to get screwed. — Ralanda King
Improve the lives of commuters
Every morning I wake up, let my dog out, make my coffee, and then get in my car and drive the 10 miles from Old City to my job in Northeast Philly. Every morning I empathize with the poor souls driving southbound on I-95, because I know I will be stuck in that same murderous line of traffic that begins at Cottman Avenue and ends past Callowhill Street on my way home. I can’t imagine waking up an extra hour early just to sit in traffic to get to my job on time.
My commute at 6:30 a.m. is about 25 minutes; the exact same commute at 4:30 p.m. on a good day is 55 minutes. Sheer volume and construction has caused me to spend so much money on gas, so much time away from my family, and so much frustration in listening to people complain about the Eagles on sports radio.
If I could bike to work, I’d certainly get there faster. I have commuted via bike in the past. In the morning my safety is not an issue, but in the afternoon, it’s a different story. On the route I take and at the times I’d ride, I’d be taking my life in my hands every time I sat in the saddle. One solution would be to allow riders to take our bikes on the train after 7 a.m. and after 4 p.m. This would allow bike commuters to bypass the more congested areas of the city that are less friendly to bike travel. — Andrew Adams, Old City
Improve money management
Two equal but important changes: 1. Philly needs a SEPTA overhaul. Equipment, staff, everything. 2. The city needs to get better at money management. How much money is this city going to lose? We “misplaced” tens of millions and now lose $41 million on the police building. What are we doing? This is insane. — Matthew Jones, Washington Square West
Improve the schools so young people can stay in the city
Over and over again I see young couples getting married and having children, then moving out of the city once their children reach school age. These families love the city, but can’t afford to buy a house in neighborhoods that have well-established, good schools, such as McCall, Meredith, and Greenfield. Affordable houses are in neighborhoods where schools are under-performing. The first question real estate brokers get from prospective families is about the best school district to buy a house in. Everything neighborhoods aspire to begins with having the best school system possible. — Andrew Freedman, Washington Square West