Well, that escalated quickly.

As promised, SEPTA’s regional rail workers are now on strike. This means that all rail lines previously known by the R-number system, now known by final destination designations, are not running. Also as promised, Governor Corbett is seeking federal intervention into the matter, because the 127,000 people who ride the regional rail on a daily basis need to, you know, get to work and stuff.

This strike does not affect the 631,000 folks who ride SEPTA’s buses, subways, and trolleys. The workers who operate those lines are in a separate union, the infamous TWU Local 234, and under a separate contract. TWU has already said its workers have no reason to join the regional rail workers in striking and thus won’t.

Even if you don’t ride the pretty Silverliners, this is a big pain in the ass for everyone. It means more traffic, more absenteeism at work, and, logically, less pay for those who can’t get to work or those who need to shell out more money to pay for alternative transportation.

Unlike the bus, subway, and trolley riders, regional rail riders often live so far out in the suburbs or outer neighborhoods that bicycling or walking to work really isn’t an option. And those people who can find their way to Fern Rock or 69th Street or Frankford Transportation Center will be adding to the congestion on these other modes of public transit.

Then there’s cars. The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities says that on any given day, 50 percent of Philadelphians drive to work alone. As you can imagine, this number is about to balloon. And, in a city with precious few parking spaces as is (as a reminder, #NoSavesies, even in the summertime), things are about to go all Thunderdome, presumably, on the streets.

The only real practical alternatives for commuters are: NJ Transit for those in Jersey (just type in your address and make your destination Philadelphia to see what’s nearby), SEPTA’s bus system (ugh, I know), Greyhound for those in the far exurbs (this is a good option for those who ride the Doylestown/Lansdale line, as there are buses on ancillary carriers like Bieber and Trans-Bridge that drop in Quakertown and Doylestown); the 24-hour PATCO (which is retro and clean!); or carpooling.

Above all else, stay safe and, if you can do it, just take a damn day off and wait this shit out. Then again, you might be waiting a while: The last regional rail strike in 1983 lasted three months.



(Infographic: Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities)


About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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