Talks continues as Philadelphia region preps for possible SEPTA strike

More than 5,000 SEPTA workers could walk off the job on November 1 if there's no agreement.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Contract talks continued Monday between SEPTA and Transit Workers Union Local 234, one day after workers vote to authorize a strike.

An official speaking on behalf of the union tells Action News that only some progress has been made, but negotiations continue.

More than 5,000 SEPTA workers could walk off the job on November 1 if there's no agreement.

The strike would affect thousands of riders on SEPTA buses, trolleys, subways, and elevated train service.

The Regional Rail would still operate.

RELATED: SEPTA releases guide for riders in case of strike | What you should know

SEPTA maintains the agency is losing approximately $1 million a day in revenue due to a sharp decline in ridership as more employers embrace teleworking.

"SEPTA continues to lose significant money in terms of revenue every day due to ridership losses from the pandemic," said spokesperson Andrew Busch.

In October 2019, SEPTA's daily ridership averaged around 1 million. A few months later the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and by October 2020 that average plunged to approximately 300,000.

The numbers have improved so far in 2021 to 450,000, but it is still less than half of ridership levels from two years ago.

Busch says it's difficult to come up with a long-term proposal, with so many short term uncertainties.

"We are using federal COVID relief funds to help fill those budget gaps for the time being," he said. "Those funds will be exhausted within about two years."

Key bargaining issues include higher wages, paid parental leave, and a safer working environment.

Meanwhile, people are trying figure out their contingency plans, including families in the School District of Philadelphia.

Students at Samuel Gompers Elementary in Wynnefield, and across the School District of Philadelphia, are back to for full-time, in-person learning this fall.

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Nearly 60,000 Philadelphia students rely on SEPTA to get to and from school as the district is already grappling with driver shortages.



In the event of a SEPTA strike, parents were told last week to be prepared for a shift to virtual learning.

RELATED: SEPTA releases guide for riders in case of strike | What you should know

"I know we'll be able to get through it because we made it through the beginning of the pandemic," said Michele Sullivan of West Philadelphia.

Gompers Elementary parent Angela Lipsey said her daughter will have someone to help her.

"She has an older brother that's doing virtual at home also, graduate school, so he'll be there for her, but I don't know about the other kids sadly," said Lipsey, who added she was confident in her daughter's school.

"They normally have things in order, so the teachers will be right on board with everything," Lipsey continued.

Nearly 60,000 Philadelphia students rely on SEPTA to get to and from school as the district is already grappling with driver shortages.

Some or all schools could shift to 100% virtual learning.

"It would be nice if they didn't strike, but I understand," Sullivan said.

"I don't think they should strike because the kids still got to go to school, so I think they should work something out and keep it going," said Kirth Campbell of Overbrook.

RELATED: SEPTA union authorizes strike if no agreement is made this week
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