SEPTA is flummoxed by a driver’s trolley tunnel detour

SEPTA trolley tunnel (SEPTA)

SEPTA trolley tunnel (SEPTA)

There was no damage after a car drove onto underground trolley tracks in Philly early Saturday morning. But SEPTA officials say they’re still at a loss to explain exactly how or why it happened.

The car made it onto the tracks around 5 a.m., according to SEPTA officials, and photos of the white Jeep SUV stuck — apparently fairly far — underground circulated widely online.

It took about two hours for SEPTA to extricate the car, and another hour to check the tracks for damage — forcing trains to reroute for part of the morning.

Service ultimately resumed in the tunnel around 8 a.m. Saturday.

SEPTA Spokesperson Andrew Busch said details are sparse. On Monday, he told WHYY that officials had established that the car entered the system through the trolley tunnel at 40th Street in University City, where surface-level lines dip underground.

Then, he said, the driver somehow managed to keep moving east through the tunnel until they were almost at the 37th Street Station.

Drivers mistakenly enter rail tunnels from time to time throughout the system, he added, though said it happens more on regional rail lines outside the city.

Of a car getting into a University City tunnel, he said, “I can’t remember the last time that’s happened … You would really have to go out of your way to do that.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new information from SEPTA about the Jeep driver’s journey underground. Initially, Busch had told WHYY that the car entered the trolley tunnel at 36th and Ludlow streets.

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