SEPTA to reduce service; tells passengers to stay off unless ‘absolutely’ necessary

The 8th Street Market Frankford line platform was deserted Tuesday afternoon and an announcement and scrolling message instructed riders to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The 8th Street Market Frankford line platform was deserted Tuesday afternoon and an announcement and scrolling message instructed riders to cover their noses and mouths when sneezing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

SEPTA is putting trains, subways and buses on a reduced Saturday schedule starting Sunday, March 22.

All transit, including the Norristown High Speed Line, will run less frequently. The approximately 25% reduction in services will include 24-hour subway service to ensure smooth commutes to area hospitals and other essential workplaces.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep things running for essential workers,” said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch. But “anybody who absolutely does not need to travel right now, should not be on the system.”

SEPTA ridership dropped across the system by about 60% on Wednesday — with an 80% decrease on the Regional Rail lines — as the region continued to shut down in an effort to contain the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown of all nonessential businesses for 14 days.

SEPTA said that outlying Regional Rail station ticket windows and waiting rooms will be closed on Friday, March 20 to promote social distancing. The agency doesn’t anticipate an impact to service.

Fares can still be purchased at the five Center City ticket offices and fares kiosks. Riders who pay cash fare on trains leaving outlying stations will be charged the weekend/evening rate.

This week, Regional Rail began running on a winter storm schedule, where service was also decreased by 25%. Both schedules will remain for as long as necessary, Busch added.

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