Time has run out for the iconic split-flap departures board at 30th Street Station.
Photos and videos posted to social media Thursday night showed workers in orange vests and hard-hats methodically dismantling the signboard — while it was still running.
Manufactured in Italy by Solari di Udine, the display was the last active one of its kind along Amtrak’s service lines. The Metro-North transit system had replaced its network of Solari boards by 2014, and New York Penn Station got rid of its flippy board two years ago.
Earlier on Thursday, Congressman Brendan Boyle told The Inquirer that the structure would likely be removed over the weekend; the pace apparently has been stepped up.
News broke back in 2016 that the mechanical display was on its way out. It does not comply with ADA standards, Amtrak said, and will be replaced with a digital display that does. The board is destined for the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, which said last fall it expected delivery some time in January.
Once word got out that the end was near, a giant outcry arose among Philadelphians and train enthusiasts, who — out of nostalgia or sentiment or just appreciation for its tangible nature — reacted strongly to having the clickety-clack of the board replaced with yet another a silent glowing screen. A change.org petition to save the original quickly garnered more than 2,200 signatures.
As it happens, local company Oat Foundry makes a modern version of the split-flap board, which it says could be made fully accessible and compliant.
At Rep. Boyle’s recommendation, Amtrak officials met with the Oat Foundry team multiple times over the past few months, per the Inky, and a deal may still be worked out to install one of those modern flippy boards — but as an attraction, not the main information source.
Amtrak could not be immediately reached for comment.