SEPTA commuters pack trains, deal with delays

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016
VIDEO: Train troubles for SEPTA commuters
It was standing room only on SEPTA trains Tuesday evening.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Rail commuters were forced to cope with delayed, packed and fewer trains Tuesday after SEPTA sidelined one-third of its railroad cars over a structural problem.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bolstered bus and trolley service and urged people to think about other options on the first business day since the problem was discovered Friday night.

However, during the Tuesday evening commute it appeared some of the trains became overcrowded. Action News cameras caught passengers holding on between the train cars as the Regional Rail Line made its away along the tracks at the Glenside station.

A viewer told Action News the train later stopped between Ambler and Fort Washington to move those passengers from that area.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, SEPTA's general manager recapped the first morning under the new schedule.

"I am concerned that we'll have even more people coming back to the system tomorrow," Knueppel said.

"We did see delays," said Jeff Knueppel. "It started out not so bad, but as the morning went on, by 7:30 or so, there were some trains that had to skip stations because they were full to capacity."

Knueppel said SEPTA planned to adjust the schedules of the specific lines affected Tuesday morning to avoid a repeat of the same issues Wednesday.

But he cautioned there was still an adjustment period ahead.

Commuters deal with delays due to SEPTA's problems.

"I am concerned that we'll have even more people coming back to the system tomorrow," said Knueppel. "People may have still been off today. So we continue to ask people to look at alternative SEPTA service."

Almost overnight, SEPTA lost 13,000 rail seats in 120 rail cars.

SEPTA is now using a modified Saturday schedule Monday through Friday. The goal during rush hour at least, is to have a train leaving the station at least every half hour.

Transit officials noted on a normal day, SEPTA can carry 65,000 passengers each way, but starting Tuesday, that number was reduced to 35-40,000. Although trains were reduced, additional cars have been added to expand passenger capacity.

To ease congestion, passengers traveling into Center City were being allowed to connect to the Market-Frankford Line at 30th Street Station.

Beginning Tuesday, SEPTA expanded rush-hour service on its Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line and Norristown High Speed Line. Others could be passed by waiting at the station.

Additional parking was being added at the AT&T Station, Naval Hospital and Franklin Transportation Center - all within a half mile walking distance of their respective stations.

SEPTA is also working with the City of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia to assist with parking accommodations for passengers.

For railroad customers who have purchased weekly and monthly transpasses for July, SEPTA is working on a 'fair credit plan' to be used for future pass purchases. Customers should hold on to passes for that credit.

Weekly and monthly trail passes are good for use on all transit services. Railroad tickets and One Day Convenience Passes will be honored on transit.

Regional Rail riders are encouraged to use alternative SEPTA services if possible including buses, trolleys and other SEPTA mass transit.

"We have a very vast transit network with all our rail lines, the subways, our 118 bus routes," said Hopkins. "We really are encouraging our regional rail riders, if they can, to move toward the other parts of our system."

Ongoing updates for service enhancement and modifications are available at

It all began on Friday after a train car was found to be leaning. An inspection led to the discovery of a fracture in an equalizer beam on a Silverliner V car.

"Inspections performed so far have noted mostly small cracks in at least one of the eight possible locations," said Knueppel.

SEPTA said inspections of other Silverline V cars revealed of the 100 cars inspected, only five didn't have cracks in the beam.

"Given the high number of cracked equalizer beams, even an interim fix will take considerable time. It is likely that car shortages will persist on the railroad at least through July and August," said Knueppel.

And had a SEPTA employee not noticed the slight lean of one of the cars caused by the crack, "the concern would be at a high speed you could have a derailment," said Knueppel.

We spoke with Regional Rail customers who say they've already come up with contingency plans, but they're not happy about it.

"I'm gonna have to drive and that's the way it's going to be," said Judy Buxton of Villanova, Pennsylvania.

"I'm going to have to take the bus, which I hate because there's so much traffic," said Steffie Snyder of Ardmore.

Action News also spoke with Uber drivers who say SEPTA'S woes could turn into Manna from Heaven for them.

"We're going to make out pretty good tomorrow. We're going to be out here starting at 4 a.m. We're going to make sure everybody gets to their destination safely, quickly and on time," said Marcus Robinson, Uber Black driver.

"I can always use more business. I hate to do it at other people's expense. But yeah, I'm happy for any more business I can get," said Elliot Gardner, Uber driver.