All thirteen SEPTA Regional Rail lines have stopped operating due to a labor stoppage.
The 220 members of the Brotherhood of Local Engineers and Trainmen and the 210 members of Electrical Workers Local 744 walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
All city and suburban buses, trollies, subway service and the Norristown High Speed Line will continue to operate.
Saturday marked the expiration of a cooling off period mandated by the federal Railway Labor Act.
According to a statement released by SEPTA spokesperson, Jerri Williams, SEPTA offered to extend the cooling off period for a period of two weeks under existing rates of pay and working conditions. Representatives of the BLET and the IBEW rejected the offer.
The two unions have been working without a contract for several years while exhausting mediation requirements.
SEPTA plans to impose wage increases that were a part of its latest contract offer, of 11.6 percent for electrical workers and 8.5 percent for engineers, saying it seeks terms consistent with its other labor agreements.
The union had asked for pay increases to be retroactive and other changes to SEPTA’s proffered contract.
It has been a long time since the last regional rail shutdown, which took place in 1983 and lasted 108 days.
In this case, Pennsylvania Tom Corbett could still request the appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board, which would delay a work stoppage for 240 days.
60,000 commuters rely on SEPTA’s regional rail lines.
Out of what SEPTA spokeswoman called an “abundance of caution,” SEPTA began unrolling contingency plans this week in case of a strike, including plans to add additional trains and buses on operational lines and expanding parking outside stations around the city’s periphery.
Williams cautioned that rush hour service is already at capacity. “Therefore, we encourage passengers to flex their work schedules by coming to work earlier or later than their normal shifts.”
PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum said that PennDOT will adjust work crew schedules on major throughways to allow for longer commute times.
SEPTA’s Service Interruption Plan is now available online, including parking and operational services: http://www.septa.org/service/service-interruption/rail.html
Alternate service planner by station: http://www.septa.org/stations/rail/stations.shtml