SEPTA strike: The latest on Day 1 and your evening commute

Members of the Transportation Workers Union Local 234 went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, bringing to a stop Philadelphia’s SEPTA buses, subways and trolley service.

This is an ongoing story. Last updated 6:27 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016

SEPTA says union members are no longer blocking its employees from reporting for work.

“SEPTA train crews were able to access train facilities that were blocked earlier due to TWU strike-related pickets,” said spokeswoman Carla Showell-Lee in a statement released at 5:50 p.m.

Earlier in the afternoon SEPTA alerted the public about the union’s action and warned that it would impact their evening commute.

RRD: Picketers blocking the rail yards are preventing crews getting to their trains; expect delays of up to 45 minutes.

— SEPTA (@SEPTA_WTR) November 1, 2016

RRD: Significant number of trains to be canceled tonight; several rail yards blocked by TWU strike activity. Seek alternate means.

— SEPTA (@SEPTA_WTR) November 1, 2016

TWU spokesperson Jamie Horwitz originally responded to reports of union picketing of Regional Rail saying, “We have no knowledge of that.”

The pickets began clearing from those facilities near Wayne Junction around 5 p.m. after SEPTA got an court injunction to end the blockade.

As of 6 p.m. SEPTA’s website showed that seven outbound trains were cancelled due to TWU’s action.  Two of the cancelled trains were on the Airport line, two were on the Trenton line, two were on the Wilmington line and one was on the Media/Elywn line. 

The result was very long lines at Center City rail stations for the commute home. SEPTA had passengers line up at the top of the stairs. Riders only went down to the platform once a train was ready to board. 

For about 45 minutes SEPTA’s smartphone app was not receiving updates on Tuesday afternoon. This was particularly unfortunate since SEPTA’s TrainView shows customers whether their train is arriving or departing late. The app was again working around 5 p.m.

Controllers are scrambling to provide service. This event hinders our ability to display status info on boards/Appshttps://t.co/dMwlHgpWEt

— SEPTA_SOCIAL (@SEPTA_SOCIAL) November 1, 2016

Members of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, bringing to a stop Philadelphia’s SEPTA buses, subways and trolley service.

Negotiations were scheduled to resume Tuesday afternoon between SEPTA and TWU Local 234, but as of 6 p.m. the talks had not yet happened. 

What’s not operating

SEPTA city bus routes, trolley routes 10, 11, 13, 15, 34 and 36, the Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line

What is operating

SEPTA Regional Rail Lines,the Norristown High Speed Line, Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and Suburban bus routes, CCT, LUCY, and Routes 204, 205, 310 and Cornwells Heights Parking Shuttle. 

How things went this morning

The transportation strike was felt this morning even by people who don’t rely on a SEPTA bus or subway.  Bill Malarkey told WHYY that he was surprised by how packed his SEPTA Regional Rail train was, “Usually when we come in, we might be about 20 percent full, it was totally full when we got in this morning by the time we got into town,” he said.

Also, traffic coming into Center City was much heavier than usual. This created a problem for Dustin Albert who was driving in South Philly this morning, “Just dropping off the younger kid at preschool, then coming up Broad Street and trying to swing by to drop my first-grader off, traffic was just jammed,” he said. 

What’s next

If no agreement is reached before Election Day, the agency said it would seek an injunction to restore service on that day “to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote.”

It is the 12th strike by city transit workers since 1975. The last one, in 2009, lasted six days.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management has offered tips online for commuters during the strike: 

The Philadelphia Parking Authority has modified rates for PPA garages and parking enforcement in designated areas during the strike.
Parking is prohibited on both sides of Broad Street, from Spring Garden to South Street.
Bus zones may be used by any vehicle to drop off and pick up passengers, but vehicles may not be left unattended.
The city will provide a free shuttle for city employees along the Broad Street Line and Market Frankford Line. All riders must show proof of city employment.
Non-city employees are encouraged to work with their employers for alternate transportation strategies.
Jurors may take the city-employee shuttle with proper documentation and photo ID, and will receive direction when they call to confirm their reporting times.
IndeGo will boost capacity at four stations in Center City and will offer a valet service at the Municipal Services Building to allow for efficient check in and out. Details: www.rideindego.com or @RideIndego on Twitter.
Commuters can get transit updates on ReadyPhiladelphia, the city’s emergency text and email alert system. Details: www.phila.gov/ready.

This is an ongoing story. Check back with us at NewsWorks.org for updates.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the current strike is the ninth strike by city transit workers since 1975. It is the 12th.

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