Mad or Nah: Lights Out

Botched maintenance contract leaves city residents in the dark.

It’s your girl, P.O.C., back for more one-on-one interviews with everyday people in the streets of Philadelphia about current issues affecting us locally. As gun violence skyrocketed in 2021, neighborhoods got darker, after a municipal contract with American Lighting & Signalization expired in July.

The Inquirer reports that approximately 311 complaints jumped to 3,000 per month this year, up from about 900/month in 2020. “Blackouts” are the 2nd most common reason people call 311 (#1 is abandoned cars). In addition to being a public safety hazard, darker streets make it harder to solve crimes via eyewitness accounts and surveillance footage. (New studies also show lighting can help prevent crime, as well).

A new contract was finalized in mid-October, but the lapse in service has created a backlog of 3600+ outages. It’ll take to mid January, at least, to fix them all — assuming no more burn out in the meantime.

How’s this lack of lighting affect Philadelphians living in and commuting through insufficiently-lit areas? I hit the streets to ask residents, Do all these broken streetlights make you Mad or Nah?

Neighbors sound off! NOTE: Some speakers provide their names & neighborhoods, some don’t. Check out their voices in the original recorded interviews, transcribed here:

  • Not really. I try to stay more in the well-lit areas, but it’s not like, excuses of… lampposts. I mean, you see cops all the time, driving by people committing crimes in broad daylight. It’s not a lighting issue. It’s not like there are many pathways unlit. Every overpass has a ton of lights of some kind.  – Resident, South Philly
  • It does make me angry because that’s just a poor excuse. I think we pay more in taxes than a little bit. The streetlights, there should be more lights than less lights. And yes, we do need those cameras on the streetlights because they can catch a lot of criminals, with lights. So yes that’s a poor excuse, they need to come up with something else.  – Chi, Northeast
  • The street lights, anything isn’t working, it’s the office just ain’t doing their job, that’s all. I live at 40th and Haverford, no lights work. Problems so crazy out here, miss.  – Resident, Philadelphia
  • Absolutely, I think the city can and should be doing more for public safety and to work against crime. I don’t fault the police officers, but I think it’s a small percentage of the population that’s committing these crimes. And if we address it, it should be easily fixed. It’d go a long way toward resident safety. – Peg, Resident
  • Because I live up the 6100 block 10th Street and street lights was out like four weeks. I leave early in the morning going to work. Anything could happen. You know it’s dark. Someone could be watching my pattern. It’s dangerous. I call all the time, cause I’m up early in the morning going to work. So I call all the time, tell them the lights are out. They kinda fix it, but it’s definitely a problem. – Resident, Fern Rock
  • You know, I like to see the city looking well. I like to see things working properly. And as a taxpayer I would hope that my tax money would be used for it.  – Resident, Washington Square
  • They should have better-lighted street lights so people can see better, to be more comfortable walking around. For example at 10th and Chestnut where my friend works at Jefferson Hospital, them lights is always so dim. And it’s scary with people coming out, walking down the street to their cars or public transportation. They should have a better-lighted sidewalks as well as cameras so they can catch some of these people committing these crimes.  – Resident, East Germantown
  • Yeah the streetlights definitely play a big part because, like, if somebody’s walking by, you know, someone who’s non-color, and they’ll assume “Oh everything’s alright” but then somebody who has color walks by, and they’re like “Oh that person looks suspicious.”  — Resident, North Philly

How ‘Bout You?

Reading these comments, are you mad or nah? Big mad, little mad? Leave your comment below! Or reach out to revive.poc@gmail.com and let her know how you feel. Read the last Mad or Nah here.

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Mad or Nah is an original woman-on-the-street interview series from REVIVE Radio that asks Philadelphians about issues impacting their everyday life. This edition originally aired December 8, 2021 on WHYY.com and on 90.9FM

Tamara Russell aka Proof of Consciousness aka P.O.C. hosts and produces a variety of award-winning shows featured on Uptown Radio 98.5FM and Philly’s WHYY/NPR/PBS outlets. Read more in our feature on this multi-talented motivator, Wouldn’t It Be NICE? (June 2021). 

About P.O.C. 13 Articles
Tamara Russell (aka Proof of Consciousness aka P.O.C.) hosts and produces a variety of award-winning shows featured on Uptown Radio 98.5FM and Philly’s WHYY/NPR/PBS outlets. "Mad or Nah" is an original woman-on-the-street interview series from REVIVE Radio that asks Philadelphians about issues impacting their everyday life.

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