SEPTA strike: Weekend updates

Philadelphia’s weeklong transit strike is over.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the union representing about 4,700 transit workers announced a tentative agreement early Monday.

This is an ongoing story. Last updated 8:46 a.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016

Philadelphia’s weeklong transit strike is over. SEPTA and TWU Local 2 announced a tentative agreement early Monday.

Officials said subway service would likely be the first to return and that some bus and possibly trolley service could be available in time for Monday’s evening rush, but that it usually takes 24 hours for full service to return.           

Commuter advisory: Several major streets around Independence Mall will be closed Monday after 10 a.m. in advance of Hillary Clinton’s campaign rally.


The line for the Warminster train at Jefferson Station Friday at 5:35 p.m. (Tony Sadowski/WHYY)

On Sunday evening, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced he would to file an amicus brief in support of SEPTA request for a court order to end the transit strike ahead of election day. 

Excerpt from Gov Tom Wolf statement: 

It is clear that both sides have failed to reach an agreement and the work stoppage has crippled the City of Philadelphia’s transportation system. It has become not only an issue that is impacting the ability of the elderly and individuals with disabilities to access care, and students to receive an education, but it is also one that has grave economic consequences for both the city and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

The City of Philadelphia announced Sunday night that it has already filed a motion for a “temporary” injunction.

Excerpt from the city’s statement:

The City has a legal responsibility to ensure that Philadelphians can exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.  “Though there are extensive efforts to minimize the effect of any transit strike on Election Day, unquestionably, such an Election-Day strike will make it practically impossible for many Philadelphians to participate in this election. 

One impact from the SEPTA strike has been more traffic jams in Center City. It’s going to be even harder on Monday because of a major campaign rally on Independence Mall for Hillary Clinton. Here are the streets that will be closed after 10 a.m.

Market Street, from 4th to 7th Street
5th Street, Arch to Market Street
6th Street, Arch to Chestnut Street

Gates around the campaign rally open at 4 p.m. with the main event starting at 7 p.m. Hillary Clinton will be joined by President Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and others.

What you’re saying on Twitter 

SEPTA ‏@SEPTA_TRE Sunday at 8:21 p.m. “Trenton: Outbound train #9731 is canceled Center City to Trenton due to crew shortages. Train #9733 is next to depart Temple Univ at 9:40PM.”

ciera ‏@ceezy__ Sunday at 7:08 p.m. “This whole “I can’t vote because Septa on strike” is bullshit. Y’all should be voting in y’all neighborhood anyway. What you need Septa for?”

Ryan Frascella ‏Sunday at 4:38 p.m. “@SEPTA_SOCIAL how do you cancel the 3:53 to Malvern w/ no early notice? Don’t you know crew shortages ahead of time? No excuse. Unacceptable”

@SEPTA_SOCIAL Sunday at 4:42 p.m. “@RyanFrascella Unfort, we were trying to see if a substitute crew co cover, but we couldn’t find one. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Kat  Sunday at 1:21 p.m. “‏@sarukuiyamato Between the football game, a military parade, and septa being on strike the traffic in Philly is god awful”

Kelci Holman Saturday at 10:18 p.m. “Septa and twu both need to stop playing games bc there are thousands of ppl missing school, work, and appointments with no other transport.”

lsb ‏Friday at 8:12 p.m. “@PhillyMayor please extend polling hours now. Even if #septa ends the strike it’s still going to be a mess!

TWU: SEPTA is not evening trying to negotiate

On Saturday night, Transport Workers Union Local 234 President Willie Brown released a statement saying contract talks are at a standstill because of SEPTA’s latest negotiating tactic. 

We can’t get anywhere at the bargaining table because SEPTA has pinned their hopes on getting an injunction to end the strike. SEPTA Board Chairman Pat Deon’s plan all along has been to rely on the courts rather than negotiations. He is the one using the election as leverage. This is not the way to end a strike or get an agreement. It’s foolhardy to launch a legal Hail Mary pass designed to make SEPTA’s high-priced lawyers richer and circumvent the collective bargaining process.

The injunction Brown is referring to is a plan by SEPTA to seek a court order to end the strike before Tuesday’s election. SEPTA is expected to argue in a state court hearing Monday at 9:30 a.m. that the transit strike will deprive many Philadelphia voters from getting to the polls.

The issue is a major concern for both national and local Democratic Party officials because they are counting on Philadelphia’s heavily Democratic voter base to help deliver the state for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and to send Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty to Washington.

When the strike ends, whether it be through a contract agreement or court order, SEPTA says it would take just over 12 hours for the buses, subways and trolleys to be running at full capacity. SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch. told PlanPhilly that services would begin to resume on buses within four to six hours of the walkout ending and around eight hours for subways and trolleys. Services would begin slowly at the start and then ramp up to regular frequencies over the next few hours as employees reported back to work and began their shifts. Within twelve to sixteen hours, things would be back to normal. 

On Friday, a Court of Common Pleas judge rejected SEPTA’s request for a blanket injunction that would have ended the four day transit strike Friday. SEPTA petitioned the court saying the strike by TWU union workers has created “A clear and present danger” for not just passengers but all the of the citizens of Philadelphia and the surrounding region. 

 In court documents SEPTA cited a clause in the Public Employee Relations Act (Section 1003 of Act 195) that if the strike creates life threatening conditions to the citizens a strike can be declared illegal. 

In their petition SEPTA gave multiple examples it said proved that the transit strike is hurting residents both economically and in some cases their health. 

(It is) forcing children to walk, crossing congested intersections and thoroughfares (thereby endangering such students), to delay their arrival at school, or to skip school altogether.
News reports have shown people walking literally miles to get to work. For those individuals, the loss of public transportation service is no mere inconvenience; it cuts off their pay and it jeopardizes their jobs, their livelihood and their health.
Residents of the City of Philadelphia and surrounding region who rely on public transportation to travel to area hospital and medical providers are unable to receive needed treatment based upon the lack of public transportation and are put at serious risk due to Defendants’ strike.

Judge Linda Carpenter said SEPTA failed to prove that the strike is creating the “present danger’ it claims in the petition. 

SEPTA’s Friday petition also made the argument that the strike could prevent voters from exercising their right to vote. So this gives us a window on how SEPTA will argue Monday morning for an election day injunction. Here’s an excerpt from Friday’s petition.

A continuation of the strike through Election Day, November 8, 2016, will jeopardize the ability of citizens to exercise their right to vote. Within the City of Philadelphia, citizens, especially the elderly and disabled, will not have the ability to use SEPTA to travel between polling places and their homes or workplaces. In addition, as a result of the strike, citizens who plan to vote in the evening cannot rely on SEPTA to get them home from work in a timely and predictable manner.

WHYY will be covering the state court hearing Monday and we’ll keep you updated both on WHYY-FM and on NewsWorks of the latest developments. 

Traffic is snarled due to the SEPTA strike at Market and 15th streets. #septastrike #striketraffic

— Sean Kardon (@seankardon) November 4, 2016


How late is my train?

On SEPTA’s website and app you can see real-time updates on whether your train will be leaving late. The train schedule is called TrainView and displays the estimated time of arrival.

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. 

Check SEPTA’s guide for service interruptions here. 

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

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