Late Friday afternoon, SEPTA announced that ten more railcars have been leased from the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) transportation authority. Five of the trains will arrive on Monday, and the remainder will follow sometime midweek. They will bring the total number of leased railcars to 28, joining the 18 already on loan from MARC, Amtrak and NJ Transit.
SEPTA will once again revise its Regional Rail schedules on Monday. Commuters should check SEPTA’s website Saturday evening for the updated schedules.
Monday’s will be the third schedule change since SEPTA discovered a widespread defect just before the Fourth of July weekend that sidelined all 120 of its new Silverliner V railcars. With the Regional Rail fleet reduced by a third forcing SEPTA to run fewer trains, Regional Rail cars have been even more packed than usual the last two weeks.
SEPTA continues to urge riders to look into alternative modes of transportation during the railcar shortage, which is expected to last well past Labor Day. SEPTA engineers are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause of the defect—cracks near the welded ends of equalizer bars, which help distribute the train’s weight evenly across its wheels—which will then inform how to fix it.
Cracks were found on 264 of the 480 equalizer beams found on the 120 Silverliner V rail cars. All of the cracks were found near the welded ends of the beams. Any beam that is cracked itself will need to be replaced; whether a merely cracked weld will necessitate replacing the entire beam hasn’t been determined yet, but seems likely.
To assist frustrated commuters, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission offers two web-based services: The Share-A-Ride program and Mobility Alternatives Program. Share-A-Ride is a free ride-match service, helping area residents find carpools with others who may share a similar commute. The Mobility Alternatives Program helps employers find commuting options for their employees.
Over on his Sic Transit Philadelphia blog, Michael Noda offers transit tips for getting in and out of Philadelphia without relying on Regional Rail.