PATCO construction impacts service schedules

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PATCO is about to start the next phase of its major construction project and that means schedule changes for riders. (WPVI)

PATCO started the next phase of a major construction project Friday morning, resulting in schedule changes for riders.

The PATCO tracks on the south side of the Ben Franklin Bridge are now closed for the next two months.

PATCO plans to run alternating eastbound and westbound trains across the bridge on one track instead of two.

Riders "should expect delays and crowded cars," said John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority and president of PATCO.

Hanson said riders may face 30-minute gaps in train service.

"We store all the trains in the subway in Philadelphia then we run them one after another about five minutes apart back into New Jersey. When we run out of trains, we have to fleet them back," said Hanson.

For the next few months the first few trains during the morning rush hour are expected to be crowded.

"It's going to be horrible. It's already bad. During rush hour you can't even find a seat," said commuter Steve Rickert.

"I guess now I'm really going to have to keep up to date with it. If I can't make it to work then I can't make money," said commuter Eric Garcia.

PATCO has roughly 10 million riders. Most of the people we spoke to didn't know about revised schedule and expected delays.

The DRPA said they've been trying to communicate.

"We've had three town hall meetings. We've been at the station four times for information sessions," said Hanson. "We've been very active on social media. We've been out here regularly handing out information."

Visit the PATCO website here.

See the revised PATCO timetable here.

Drivers crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge can also expect lane closures during the $103 million rail rehabilitation.

Once the south side work is done, the same repairs will be done on the north side tracks for approximately fifty days.

One commuter told Action News, "I love PATCO and they have to change the tracks. It's like being at the airport for security. It's in your best interest to do it," said Lisa Myers from Collingswood, New Jersey.

Click here for more helpful information on PATCO changes.

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