New SEPTA plan aims to reduce stranded commuters

    When confronted with snow in the past, Septa used to continue to operate its trains, buses and trolleys until the snow drifts, high winds and cold temperatures stopped them in their tracks.

    Forecasters say another winter storm could arrive Tuesday afternoon and dump a foot or more of snow on the Delaware Valley, making for a tough commute for Septa riders. Whyy’s Susan Phillips reports that Septa has a new policy of shutting down some lines in heavy weather.
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    When confronted with snow in the past, Septa used to continue to operate its trains, buses and trolleys until the snow drifts, high winds and cold temperatures stopped them in their tracks.

    But that practice often stranded commuters for hours on disabled vehicles.

    During this past weekend’s storm, Septa initiated a new strategy. Now they use GPS tracking technology to monitor where the vehicles are throughout a storm and if conditions are bad, halt service on individual lines, and give riders an hour notice.

    Septa spokesman Richard Maloney says the policy depends on riders monitoring media reports. He says the same policy will be in place for Tuesday’s storm.

    “It all depends on the timing, if its an overnight storm obviously we’re gonna have a slow rush hour. If its going to be during the day, and its going to be a measurable snow, a major snow storm, people should consider whether they’re going to take septa, unless they’re close to the el or the subway, for the possiblity that they’re not gonna get their return trip in the evening.”

    Maloney says no passengers were stranded on vehicles during the past storm.

    He says Monday morning commuters did experience some delays. Septa rider Reggie Reid said his trip on the Market Frankford line had some problems.

    Reid: It actually went pretty bad because at fifth street station, on the El, we got stuck there for about 20 minutes, so people were frustrated and stamping their feet, and some guy got on the train and fell. And it was just hectic today.

    Septa officials say problems on the Market-Frankford were caused by a shortage of cars.

    Tuesday’s storm is expected to bring wind, which could further complicate Septa’s effort to keep the trains, buses and trolleys running.

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