Repairs may not be possible on the cracked parts that forced 120 of SEPTA's most advanced regional rail cars out of service.
SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel said he's not ruling out repairs, but at this point in time that option looks "unlikely," adding commuters can expect to be impacted at the very least for the next couple of months.
"We can't make the decision about the cars if you don't know what caused the problem," Knueppel said. SEPTA engineers and local manufacturer Hyundai Rotem are working to figure that out he said, with a series of tests including metallurgical testing.[[386043101, C]]
"It's not looking good for repairs or a quick return to service," Knueppel said.
Commuters could get some relief Monday. SEPTA is inking contracts with three other transit companies, giving riders 1,700 additional seats.
Amtrak, NJ Transit and Maryland are leasing locomotives and cars to SEPTA and Knueppel said Friday he's working with transit companies across the country to borrow more equipment.
Cracks were found on all but five of the 120 Silverliner V cars that were taken out of service one week ago, causing delays that were compounded this week by brush fires, signal issues, equipment issues and speed restrictions during extreme heat.[[386050091, C]]
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"It's been a very tough week for our riders and a tough week for SEPTA employees to try and deal with the situation we're in," Knueppel said.
Before the service disruption, SEPTA was running 788 trains every weekday. Now 549 trains are online. That boils down to 13,000 fewer seats. However, Knueppel pointed out the number of trips made each day (when a train car goes from the start of the line to the end) has not changed significantly because some trains are running for extended hours and with more cars.
"And this is important to understand, because if you can adjust your work schedule, we're running trains all through the day," he added.
Schedule adjustments during the first week of the SEPTA slowdown were toughest for commuters who get on at stations from Glenside into Center City.
Early estimates by SEPTA show daily regional rail ridership is down this week by 30,000 -- a drop of nearly 50 percent.