SEPTA Strike, Day 3: Negotiations and Commuting Chaos Continue

When will the madness end?

'Station Closed' sign at SEPTA El stop, man smoking in background

The entrance to the Market-Frankford Line and the underground concourse at 12th Street is closed on the first day of the SEPTA strike | Photo: Dan McQuade

Three days have passed since close to 5,000 unionized SEPTA workers walked off the job, halting all of the city’s public transportation save for Regional Rail, which is feeling the brunt of trying to mitigate the effects of the strike.

The fallout has been rough for virtually everyone in the city who has had to adjust how they get from point A to point B, whether by walking, biking, jogging, driving or carpooling. Here’s what’s happening as we enter the third day of the strike.

Negotiations are still stalled. Last night, SEPTA management released a statement for the first time since Sunday, calling out the Transport Workers Union Local 234 for failing to meet in the middle.

“On several occasions this week, SEPTA negotiators believed progress toward a deal had been made,” SEPTA board chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said. “However, at each of those seemingly positive turns, TWU Local 234 has brought a halt to negotiations.”

SEPTA said the strike was causing “severe hardship” for residents. Many are worried that the strike would affect people’s abilities to get to the polls on Election Day next Tuesday. SEPTA has said that it will attempt to obtain an injunction for November 8th, forcing workers back on the job if an agreement on a new contract is not reached by then.

The union has not yet responded to SEPTA’s latest statement, though PhillyVoice reported that the organization called the statement “outrageous.”

According to the Inquirer, SEPTA is offering to remove the current cap on pensions for the workers on strike and increase pension benefits by 8 percent while increasing medical coverage from $46 a month for union workers to $164 a month. SEPTA is also offering wage increases that would raise the average pay with overtime from $68,100 to $76,200 a year over a period of five years, the newspaper reports.

In commuting news, Uber claims it has seen a 41 percent spike in ridership during the strike, though fares were reportedly higher yesterday than they had been earlier this week. Thirty-eight percent of Uber riders took UberPOOL this week, while pre-strike just 25 percent opted for UberPOOL.

Lyft and Indego, the city’s bike share program, have also reported a boom in business.

SEPTA Regional Rail is still serving as the only form of public transportation in the city, so commuters should continue to expect to see crowding and delays this morning. You can check the status of your train here.

Last night, SEPTA’s Media/Elwyn line was temporarily suspended after a person was struck and killed by a train at the Angora station near 57th Street and Baltimore Avenue.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.