Mechanical problems on El dogging SEPTA

If you’ve been thinking that the Market-Frankford El has been unusually crowded recently, you’re right.

A series of mechanical problems on the El has been causing longer headways over the past several weeks, leading to increased crowding and delays, according to SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.

SEPTA hasn’t been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the problems, but Busch said that there may be “a parallel” with the severe weather the region’s seen over the past month.

Small mechanical issues on train cars — such as problems with opening and closing the passenger doors — have forced the authority to take several out of service at a time.

Though none of the problems have caused any safety concerns, it has taken SEPTA mechanics a long time to track down and fix the errors, leading to “a backlog” of maintenance problems, Busch said, adding that SEPTA has taken workers from the bus division to work on the El cars and has teams working on nights and weekends trying to fix the problems.

The authority hasn’t been able to definitively say that the problems have been caused by the storms, but the bad weather has definitely increased normal the wear and tear on the El, he added.

And it doesn’t take that that many trains being out of service to start impacting headways.

Only two trains were in for repairs Friday afternoon, but riders were still seeing slower than usual headways.

Combined with some switching problems that have been “a little worse than usual,” the mechanical problems have caused “a cascading effect,” leaving riders to cope with more crowded trains, Busch said.

Things are slowly returning to normal, however.

The Friday morning rush hour was the smoothest all week, and SEPTA hopes the problems will be cleared up by early this week.

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