SEPTA workers could strike next week, impacting many Philly transit routes. Here’s what you need to know

“We're hopeful we're not going to get to that point, but there are procedures in place,” said a SEPTA spokesperson.

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A transit security officer works on the platform of the Girard stop

File photo: A transit security officer works on the platform of the Girard stop of the Market-Frankford El train on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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The city of Philadelphia and SEPTA are warning residents to prepare for alternate travel methods as a potential strike of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 could impact many of the city’s transit services next week.

A strike would halt operations of city bus and trolley routes, along with the Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line, as early as Wednesday, Nov. 1. Regional Rail, Suburban Transit, LUCY, and CCT Connect service would still continue to operate as usual.

“We’re hopeful we’re not going to get to that point …but there are procedures in place to do that and that’s what we would follow if we got to that point,” said SEPTA  spokesperson Andrew Busch.

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The contract between SEPTA and TWU Local 234 expires at midnight on Halloween. Busch said negotiators for both sides have met at least 20 times over the last several weeks and are currently holding meetings at the Wyndham Hotel in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood.

In a letter earlier this month, TWU said contract negotiations were “going nowhere fast.” The union cited issues including the ongoing workforce shortage — the transit service has 800 unfilled positions —, workers having to do forced overtime, wanting maintenance to be done “in-house,” and safety concerns.

“Many of the concerns and issues that the union brought up are concerns that on the SEPTA side, are our concerns for them as well,” Busch said. “We all want SEPTA to be successful. We want SEPTA to be a big part of the city’s and region’s recovery from the pandemic moving forward. So we all want to reach agreement on those issues and we definitely think that the best place to do that is at the bargaining table.”

In 2016, TWU Local 234 went on strike after not being able to reach an agreement with SEPTA on a new contract. In 2009, a similar SEPTA strike lasted for six days.

Editor’s note: WHYY News reached out to TWU Local 234 for comment and is awaiting response.

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