Another delay on SEPTA order — and another customer left waiting

In April, SEPTA rolled out a new ad campaign designed to connect with its passengers.

But SEPTA and its riders already have plenty in common — both know what it means to be stuck waiting for a train.

 In 2006, SEPTA contracted with Hyundai Rotem — a Korean manufacturer with a plant in South Philadelphia.

The order called for 120 regional-rail Silverliner V cars to update SEPTA’s aging fleet and adapt to its increased ridership.

The railcars were supposed to be finished by 2010.

Two years past that date, SEPTA now says Hyundai Rotem is about to miss another deadline. The railcars scheduled to arrive at the end of September won’t come until October because they’re lacking all the parts needed to complete the units.

Despite some frustrations, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams says the transit agency is happy with the 110 cars they already have.

“We had some differences at the beginning of this project,” said Williams. “But toward the end, it’s been smooth and we’re very pleased with the cars that have been delivered.”

But while SEPTA can finally see the platform on its Hyundai-Rotem contract, another city in the Northeast is still stuck on the tracks.

Boston’s MBTA says the manufacturer is also two years behind on its contract to build 75 double-decker commuter cars.

Still waiting for the pilot railcar to be completed, the MBTA’s general manager headed to South Korea last week to put pressure on Hyundai-Rotem execs face to face.

What impact will this consistent tardiness have in the long term on the manufacturer’s 300-worker Philadelphia assembly plant? That answer’s still unknown.

At least in the short term, SEPTA will begin negotiating with Hyundai Rotem about the fines the manufacturer will pay for its failure to meet deadlines. Contractually, SEPTA can collect $200 for every day a railcar is past due — adding up to millions of dollars in potential penalties.

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