Negotiators for Philadelphia's transit system and the union representing thousands of workers resume Friday amid reports of progress.
Officials from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Transport Workers Union Local 234 met informally Thursday night. Both sides said a possible two-year contract is being discussed.
Union president Willie Brown called it the most productive meeting since talks began, and said negotiators are “close.” He said “there's no reason why we can't get this thing done.”
A SEPTA spokeswoman says talks resume at 11 a.m. Friday at an undisclosed location.
The contract for most members of TWU Local 234, which represents around 5,000 SEPTA workers, expired on March 15. Union members have been working under an old agreement since then.
The last of three TWU and SEPTA contracts is set to expire at midnight on April 6. Local lawmakers have asked both sides to enter arbitration, which is normally used in the state to settle contracts with police, fire and other employees, in order to avoid a strike.
SEPTA, the nation's sixth-largest transit operator, has annual ridership of about 337 million. A 2009 transit workers' strike lasted six days.
If a strike happens, Union leaders say SEPTA's backup plans won't be enough.
"There plan is to put people on regional rail," Brown said. "You can only carry so many people."