Pole falls on SEPTA trolley

July 21, 2008 4:03:27 PM PDT
It was a chaotic morning by the trolley lines in West Philadelphia. Fire crews rushed to the entrance of the tunnel at 37th and Samson Streets to get to passengers stuck inside.

"It's very rare to have to evacuate passengers who are in the tunnel," SEPTA spokesman Felipe Suarez said.

However, that is exactly what happened when a pole carrying wires which power the trolleys and provide electricity fell down onto the tracks.

"It did cause a significant amount of smoke. People are obviously concerned about their safety," Suarez said.

8 passengers were taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to tripping and falling while trying to navigate the dark tunnel.

The incident affected 5 trolley routes. For several hours while SEPTA crews were repairing the wires; trolley passengers were diverted to the Market-Frankford El.

By noon Monday, power was restored which was good news for the thousands of commuters who rely on trolley service.

SEPTA's mission was to get the trolleys up and running before the busy rush hour commute.

The agency is still investigating what causesd the wires to collapse in the first place.

SEPTA spokesperson Feliz Suarez says it was possibly due to the heat.

"The wires begin to sag, so you need to be careful about how to operate at a slow speed," Suarez said.

That is what operators are encouraged to do this summer.