SEPTA Strike: How to Navigate the Mess

Whether you're trying Regional Rail, biking, or ride-sharing for the first time, we’ve got the basics covered.

ICYMI, which is likely impossible, close to 5,000 SEPTA union workers went on strike at midnight last night.

Buses, trolleys and subways are not running. The city is collectively hyperventilating this morning as commuters struggle to find alternative ways to get to work or wherever they need to go.

Haven’t been paying attention to the news? Here’s what’s happening with SEPTA, in short: The Transport Workers Union Local 234’s contract with SEPTA management expired at midnight last night, and union workers had been publicly planning for weeks to strike if an agreement on a new contact had not been reached by then.

Here’s what’s happening in the city as a result, as well as the various alternative modes of transportation and their current statuses:

Regional Rail

There are many novice Regional Rail riders today, seeing as it’s the only public transit option currently available in the city.

If you’ve already been on board a train, you’ll know that they’ve been packed like sardine containers and, in many cases, facing delays. Here’s how you can find out if your train is delayed – or rather, how much it’s delayed.

Officials are collecting train fares on the platforms. If you have a TransPass, you can use it without incurring additional fare from any station within the city limits except Somerton and Forest Hills; from stations outside the city limits, full fare applies. (After all, Regional Rail could use every last drop of money.)

Other transportation services currently running include the Norristown High Speed Line, the Media-Sharon Hill Line, suburban bus routes above the number 90, CCT Connect and the Loop Through University City.

Some hospitals and universities are running shuttles for employees, students and patients.

If the strike continues into tomorrow, let’s hope Regional Rail figures out how to tame those delays a bit.

Biking, Walking and Running

For many, alternative transportation means getting a workout (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Biking, walking and running are largely reliable means of getting from point A to point B.

When SEPTA workers went on strike in 2009, biking went up by 38 percent during rush hour, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. But bikers – especially unexperienced bikers – need to be safe. Cycling in the city is always fraught, but with a lot more angry drivers flooding the streets because of the SEPTA strike, things have the potential to get messy.

Indego, which has increased bike capacity at four Center City stations, has released information on how to bike as safely as possible.

You can also check dock availability at Indego stations near you to prevent making a journey to an empty bike station – you just need to get the Indego app.

Oh, and it’s cold outside, so don’t forget to bundle up. Layers are the best option, seeing as you’ll sweat as you burn those calories. This is good advice for walking and running too.

Carpooling and Ride-Sharing

Carpooling is a good for the earth, and not a bad thing to consider doing more often. It’s especially important during the SEPTA strike because it makes for fewer vehicles on the streets – meaning less traffic, less danger for bikers and pedestrians, and more available parking.

Speaking of parking, the following lots will charge a flat rate of $10 for 10 hours during the strike:

  • Autopark at Market Street East, entrance on 10th Street between Arch and Filbert Streets
  • Parkade on 8th Street, entrances on 8th Street between Arch and Filbert and on Arch Street east of 8th Street and west of 8th Street
  • Autopark at Jefferson, entrance on 10th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets
  • Autopark at Independence Mall, entrances on 5th and 6th Streets between Market and Arch Streets
  • Autopark at Old City, entrances on Front and 2nd Streets between Chestnut and Walnut Streets

Visit the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s website for more parking options.

In the ride-sharing world, Uber has expanded UberPOOL options. If you’re new to ride-sharing apps, cash in on it: new Uber riders get $15 off with the code PHILLYMOVES, and new Lyft users get $5 off their first 10 rides using the code EASYRIDE50.

The services aren’t exactly cheap – especially now – but they’re pretty reliable. And of course, cabs are always an option too.

Best of luck out there, commuters! Check back for more updates.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.