SEPTA strike underway

As predicted, the SEPTA employees of the City Transit Division (represented by the +5,000 member Transport Workers Union Local 234) initiated a work stoppage at 12:01 A.M. this morning.

All riders should follow the weblinks found in the previous post for alternatives. Riders are advised to allow extra time for commutes, especially involving SEPTA Regional Rail Divison services, which could experience overcrowding similar to the levels associated with the removal of Silverliner V rail vehicles from service during the summer.  Dwell time at stations could increase as larger numbers of passengers attempt to board trains, resulting in delays.  TWU picketing may impact passenger movement as well.


Potential SEPTA Transit Division Strike

November 1st marks the expiration date of the contract between SEPTA and unionized employees of the City Transit Divison. These employees are represented by Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234.  Negotiations are occurring, but no agreement has been reached.  Union officials have indicated that a strike would occur without a tentative agreement prior to the contract expiration.  The atmosphere surrounding labor negotiations can be extremely fluid, however, and circumstances can change with limited advance notice.

This Link — 2016 Service Interruption Information — details current SEPTA plans in the event of a strike. As the situation develops, the information on the SEPTA website may be updated. Riders are advised to remain aware of changing conditions that may occur without notice. The Suburban Transit and Regional Rail divisions will continue to operate, but may be impacted by extra passengers and TWU activities.

Non-SEPTA operators (PATCO, NJ Transit, etc.) should not be impacted.

This PlanPhilly article — SEPTA publishes Service Interruption Guide to ready transit riders for looming strike — contains additional information.

The first repaired SEPTA Silverliner Vs return to service

SEPTA has begun returning Silverliner V Regional Rail Division vehicles to service. The first group operated on the Fox Chase line on Thursday, September 1.

At a press event yesterday, SEPTA indicated that the timeline for restoration of regular service is sometime in October. The replacement equalizer beams feature a “foot” attached to the main beam structure utilizing pins passing through both parts. SEPTA officials claim the new beam design will last for the intended 30 life cycle despite the accelerated manufacturing schedule.

DVARP message regarding the withdrawl of Silverliner V railcars

On Friday, SEPTA maintenance personnel discovered a structural defect in the trucks (the wheel assembly – similar to the suspension of a motor vehicle) on one of the Regional Rail Division (RRD) Silverliner V railcars.  As a precaution, the entire Silverliner V fleet has been withdrawn from service until the trucks can be inspected and repaired, or replaced if necessary.  So far, nearly all of the trucks that have been inspected have shown signs of the defect, so it is likely that all the Silverliner V fleet will be out of service for several weeks.

SEPTA has enough Silverliner IV railcars to handle the off-peak service, so service today and on the Fourth of July will run as originally planned.  But there will be serious disruptions to rush hour service starting Tuesday morning.  Under normal conditions during the peak hours, the system utilizes more than 90% of the SEPTA RRD railcar fleet, and now more than 30% of the railcar fleet is being taken out of service.

Right now, SEPTA is developing a temporary schedule which will go into effect Tuesday.  Details will be announced at a press conference this afternoon and posted on the SEPTA web site.  From SEPTA: “Starting Tuesday, SEPTA is implementing its modified Saturday schedule that was developed for weather emergencies, with added rush hour trips. Rush hour service will be at 30 minute intervals on most lines. Schedule details are being finalized, and will be posted on SEPTA’s website,, on Monday afternoon.” Some lines (likely Cynwyd, possibly others) may have substitute shuttle bus service or no service at all.  SEPTA is also asking Amtrak for help with additional Keystone stops on the Paoli/Thorndale line, but whether or not that service will materialize is unknown right now.

SEPTA is also checking with other commuter rail operators to try and obtain their spare parts to help expedite repairs.  However, they expect there won’t be enough out there, and new parts will have to be manufactured.  Thus it’s possible that service will not be back to normal until the end of the summer.

This is going to be a hardship for all RRD riders.  Here are some tips for getting through the situation.

1—Know your alternative routes.  Many SEPTA stations have nearby bus or trolley stops with service that will connect to the subway and elevated lines to Center City.  For those of you on the Paoli Line, the Norristown High-Speed Line will be an excellent alternative: use it!

2—Get the SEPTA app for your iPhone, Android or other mobile device.  The Next to Arrive feature of the SEPTA app will give you up to the minute information, direct from the control center, on where the trains are and when they will be at your station.  And TransitView will show you where all the buses and trolleys are, so you can find your best alternate route.

3—Try and adjust your travel plans so you can ride before or after the peak of the rush hour.  Trains will be less crowded then and less likely to be delayed.  Ask your employer about flex-time or telecommuting so you can stay out of the worst of the crowds.

4—Use an alternative station for your trip home in the afternoon to maximize your chances of getting on board and finding a seat.  If you ride the Airport, Chestnut Hill West, Media/Elwyn, Paoli/Thorndale, Trenton or Wilmington/Newark line, board at Jefferson Station (Market East).  If you ride the Chestnut Hill East, Fox Chase, Lansdale/Doylestown, Manayunk/Norristown, Warminster or West Trenton line, board at 30th Street or Suburban Station.

5—Be courteous.  Put backpacks and other items in the luggage racks instead of the seat next to yours: every seat will be needed during the rush hour.  Offer your seat to older or disabled persons.  And look out for opportunities to help your fellow riders by letting them know when the next train will arrive or where to find alternate transportation.

6—Be our eyes and ears in the field.  If there are problems at your station, if you have suggestions for where to place signs pointing towards alternate service, or if you have ideas for improving passenger service during this crisis, call or e-mail us, and we’ll forward your ideas to the right people at SEPTA.  They really appreciate the on-the-spot information that DVARP members are in a position to provide.

One more helpful thing you can do is try and correct any misinformation you see on social media sites, read in the news, or hear on the train.  For instance, there are a lot of people thinking that the Korean company that assembled the trains, Hyundai Rotem, is to blame for the truck defects and they are an example of shoddy foreign workmanship.  The fact is that the trucks were built in America by another company on a subcontract from Rotem.

Also urge people to be patient.  Right now, the first priority has to be setting up a plan for safely carrying as many commuters as possible while the Silverliner V fleet is out of service.  Once that’s in place, we’ll talk to SEPTA about customer service issues like pass refunds.  If you have any questions about the situation, please call or e-mail, and we’ll get answers for you.