SEPTA changing how permits are issued for musicians in concourse

Mike DeNardo
December 18, 2019 - 4:00 am
Musician Raymond de la Cruz performing at SEPTA concourse.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — SEPTA next year plans to revamp its rules for musicians who want to entertain underground commuters.

If you want to try to make a few bucks performing in the concourse at Jefferson or Suburban stations, you can't just bring your instrument and start playing; there are rules.

Many of them, as street musician Raymond de la Cruz knows.

"Last week I was plugged up. I was playing, and they came and they shut me down," he said. 

SEPTA only allows performers who apply for a permit in designated areas marked with decals and no more than three musicians at a time.

No drumsticks or amplifiers are allowed either. 

"I play electric guitar. So that cuts me out of the picture," he added. 

SEPTA's assistant general manager Kim Scott Heinle says being able to actually play or sing is not a prerequisite.

"Well right now, it's pretty much — no matter how much talent you have or don't have — if you apply and follow the rules you can perform here," Heinle said. 

"There are certain decibel requirements that we maintain.  You cannot have amplifiers.  They really prefer acoustic sounds," he added. 

He says SEPTA next year plans to overhaul its performance permit process to include auditions, a kind of "SEPTA Idol" competition. The aim, Heinle says, is to make the program less regulatory and more of an amenity to attract people who are not commuting.