SEPTA Delays, Overcrowding Leave Some Passengers With Lengthy Waits

How are SEPTA's service problems impacting your commute?

What to Know

  • 13,000 fewer seats on Regional Rail lines
  • Trains will run on an "enhanced" Saturday schedule
  • The commute Wednesday could be "worse" with more people returning to work

With one-third of its rail fleet out of service, Philadelphia's main transit agency predicted Wednesday's commute could be even more hectic with more people returning to work following the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

CLICK HERE for SEPTA's New Regional Rail Schedules

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Manager Jeff Knueppel warned that Wednesday commute could be "worse" than Tuesday's when packed trains zipped past waiting passengers at Montgomery County and other suburban stations.

The first train to go express and skip stops Wednesday as a Doylestown Line train from North Hills to Center City around 6:30 a.m. West Trenton, Newark, Airport and Trenton line trains followed suit and went express as well as the rush hour heated up around 7 a.m.

SEPTA said after the morning rush that those five lines were the only ones forced to switch to express service due to overcrowding. Officials said they were able to send trains back out to passengers left at those stations later.

Amtrak also helped out with the overflow, picking up about 260 passengers along the Trenton Line at Cornwells Heights.

SEPTA officials said ridership on the Market-Frankford Line, the Norristown High Speed Line and the Broad Street Line increased. More passengers went to Frankford Transportation Center to catch the El and various buses.

SEPTA offers alternate routes

Passengers at Montgomery County's Jenkintown Station had to search for a seat on trains that did stop. [[385671311, C]]

SEPTA warned passengers not to stand in vestibules as the trains wouldn't move with passengers safety in danger. [[385669401, C]]

SEPTA is looking to lease equipment from other states after sidelining 120 regional rail cars due to structural problems. SEPTA said cracks were discovered Friday night in beams in the suspension system on its fleet of Hyundai Rotem-made Silverliner V rail coaches. Only five of the 120 cars were found to be without problems.

While some commuters on Tuesday switched to the bus or other means of transportation, others dealt with delayed and packed trains.

"It made it difficult to get in after a long weekend," said Lynne Suher, who left home 40 minutes earlier than normal for her ride to the city from the suburbs. "But it seems like some people have off this week because of the holiday so we'll see how bad it gets."

South Korean manufacturer Hyundai Rotem began assembling the Silverliner V cars at a south Philadelphia factory after contracting with SEPTA in 2006.

The transit union said Tuesday the transit agency knew about the problem for at least a month, a claim which SEPTA disputed.

SEPTA has hired consultants to pinpoint the source of the problem, which Knueppel said could be a design flaw, bad materials or faulty workmanship. Hyundai Rotem spokesman Andy Hyer said the manufacturer is working "literally around the clock to get the cars back into service as soon as possible, safely and soundly." [[385631451, C]]

At least one other transit authority in the U.S. has begun inspecting some of its rail cars since the train issues in Philadelphia came to light.

Denver's mass transit agency is taking a closer look at similar Hyundai Rotem coaches used in its airport service. The newer cars are about 5,000 pounds lighter and have a different weight distribution.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which primarily uses a model of coach much different from Philadelphia's version, said it's inspecting two of its older Hyundai coaches.

SEPTA said it would provide refunds and credits for weekly and monthly regional rail pass customers as a result of the rail cars being taken out of service.

Philadelphia's regional rail system typically transports about 65,000 riders each way per day. With 13,000 fewer seats, the trains carried about 35,000 to 40,000 people on Tuesday. Trains were put on a modified Saturday schedule until further notice with additional rush-hour service.

Associated Press writer Ron Todt contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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