SEPTA calls 2 women 'pioneers'

SEPTA workers honored

March 28, 2013 2:39:55 PM PDT
During Women's History Month, SEPTA is honoring two of its own who are more than employees.

The transit agency is calling them 'pioneers.'

Patricia Riley planned to become a mechanical engineer. Jackie Pettyjohn thought she'd do something with her degree in English.

But neither found work in her chosen field and both ended up working on SEPTA's commuter trains.

Jackie is the first woman ever to be an engineer on the line. Patricia is the first female conductor.

Both were honored by Women in Transit for their breakthrough achievements.

"Being the only one was a little scary in the beginning. I was not sure I was going to make it out here, but I hung in there and I had a little encouragement," Jackie said.

Patricia quickly found her job is a lot more than operating doors and taking tickets.

"Tying the hand brakes on, things like that," Patricia said. "Uncoupling and coupling the trains."

The women agree, their male co-workers were none to quick to help them in the early days. Female passengers didn't offer much sympathy, either.

Today, SEPTA has many women doing both jobs. Hours can be long, and no one works 9 to 5.

Conductors work a split shift, and they're expected to be goodwill ambassadors to the riding public.

Jackie's advice to women just starting a career? If it doesn't seem to be going where you think it should...enjoy the ride!

"We are meant to follow a certain path," Jackie said. "Sometimes we don't know what it is until we get there."