Protesters hault trains to make statement

August 6, 2009 2:50:54 PM PDT
You could say it was gridlock along the Market-Frankford El today thanks to a protest by dozens of riders in wheelchairs who were determined to get their message across, even if it meant shutting down service.Disabled riders are calling on SEPTA to bridge the gap.

"On 30th Street El, there's a big gap between the platform and the train, people using wheelchairs get stuck in that gap," German parody of ADAPT said.

So today, over thirty protesters got stuck on purpose, holding up eastbound and westbound trains on the Market Frankford El at 30th Street Station for nearly an hour and a half.

Disability rights activists from the group ADAPT are demanding SEPTA enforce the policy of providing a bridge plate to wheelchair-bound riders when needed.

"We're sick and tired of not being able to gain access to the El," Zachary Lewis of ADAPT said.

A SEPTA spokesperson says service was disrupted for probably thousands of people, but protesters tell Action News drastic measures were needed to orchestrate change.

But a SEPTA spokesman counters this issue could have been resolved by a meeting or phone call.

"We've had no complaints either through our customer service office or in writing that this has been a problem and if it has been we will address it immediately," SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said.

As protesters stayed stuck, other straphangers were diverted to shuttle buses; some sympathizing more than others.

" Maybe they should make things better for the disabled people," passenger Lashonda Lindsay said.

"They're disrupting my service, other people's service. No, do it another time," passenger Mary McGroarty said.

Eventually it was all aboard for the protesters with assurances that SEPTA was onboard with their plight.