What's SEPTA's Long-Term Plan for Dealing With Fewer Regional Railcars?

SEPTA officials revealed new details Tuesday about their plans to deal with a slowdown caused by cracked railcars.

SEPTA sidelined 120 Silverliner V cars, a third of the coaches in its regional rail system, on July 1 after defects were found in the suspension systems. Since then Regional Rail riders have dealt with delays, overcrowded trains and trains skipping stations as the agency operates Regional Rail service on a modified schedule.

The transit agency has added extra trains on lease from Amtrak and the Maryland and New Jersey transit agencies but problems persisted.

SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel took part in Tuesday’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing led by Pennsylvania State Rep. Kevin Boyle at CORA Services in Northeast Philadelphia. The goal of the hearing was to determine SEPTA’s long-term plan to deal with the defective cars and the fallout caused by fewer trains.

“Since SEPTA’s announcement a few weeks ago that it was taking the defective cars out of service, travelers have been affected by modified schedules and crowded trains,” Boyle said. “I called this meeting to determine SEPTA’s long-term plan to improve this situation. I am hopeful that their plans will reduce delays and inconvenience for local transit riders.”

During the hearing, Knueppel gave a presentation explaining the current situation and SEPTA's latest plans. Knueppel said SEPTA expanded service, including an extended rush hour, leased four trains to provide additional seating capacity -- up to 2,420 seats -- and increased parking options. Knueppel also said SEPTA will continue to work on optimizing the railroad schedule operation and developing express bus service.

SEPTA is working on two replacement options for the broken train cars and expects service to continue to be impacted through at least August, according to Knueppel. SEPTA officials also said the problem with their trains is covered under warranty.

"Pleased to hear from SEPTA it's their belief that the taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for any of this," Boyle said.

SEPTA officials also went to Boston Tuesday to inquire about borrowing train cars from that city.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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