Tran­sit strike ends, avoid­ing elec­tion im­pact

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Me­gan Trimble

PHILADEL­PHIA >> The city’s crip­pling week­long tran­sit strike ended early Mon­day, en­sur­ing that all buses, trol­leys and sub­ways will be up and run­ning by Elec­tion Day.

The South­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity and the union rep­re­sent­ing about 4,700 tran­sit work­ers an­nounced a ten­ta­tive agree­ment be­fore day­break. By af­ter­noon, lim­ited ser­vice was re­stored on bus and trol­ley routes, and op­er­at­ing sub­way trains were mak­ing all stops.

SEPTA said it usu­ally takes 24 hours to have all buses, trol­leys and sub­way trains run­ning af­ter a shut­down but it was on track to be in full ser­vice by Tues­day morn­ing.

Demo­cratic city lead­ers had feared the strike could weaken turnout at the polls on Tues­day and hurt Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, who needs a big haul of votes in the city if she is to win the battleground state in­stead of Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump. The big con­cern was peo­ple were spend­ing so much time get­ting to and from work that some wouldn’t have time to go to the polls.

The city and the state in­ter­vened on Sun­day in an ef­fort to bring the walk­out to an end. The city sought an in­junc­tion that would have forced SEPTA work­ers to at least pro­vide ser­vice on Elec­tion Day. The state an­nounced it would join SEPTA in court to per­ma­nently end the strike, cit­ing its im­pact on the el­derly, the dis­abled, stu­dents and the econ­omy.

But a deal reached overnight made a con­tin­ued court fight un­nec­es­sary.

SEPTA Chair­man Pasquale Deon said the agree­ment pro­vides wage in­creases and pen­sion im­prove­ments and main­tains health care cov­er­age lev­els while ad­dress­ing ris­ing costs. The five-year deal is still sub­ject to union rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

The strike re­sulted in traf­fic grid­lock around the city at morn­ing and evening rush hours, crowded and de­layed re­gional train ser­vice and higher ab­sen­teeism at the city’s high schools. More than 50,000 stu­dents use SEPTA to get to school.

An­nette Brady, 46, usu­ally com­mutes from her north­east Philadel­phia home by train but drove into the city on Mon­day be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing de­lays in that ser­vice. The strike’s end will mean a later wakeup time and less has­sle for her.

“I’m def­i­nitely happy they came to agree­ment but a lit­tle an­gry it hap­pened in the first place, of course,” Brady said. “Driv­ing in is a night­mare.”

The SEPTA chair­man thanked rid­ers for their pa­tience.

“We sin­cerely re­gret this dis­rup­tion to trans­porta­tion through­out the City of Philadel­phia and the re­gion,” Deon said.

Trans­port Work­ers Union lo­cal pres­i­dent Wil­lie Brown said the ap­proach­ing elec­tion “re­ally wasn’t a fac­tor with me.”

“We were try­ing to get a con­tract, and that’s what we did,” he said.

It was the tran­sit union’s ninth strike since 1975.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A woman gets off a SEPTA bus Mon­day in Philadel­phia. Philadel­phia’s crip­pling week­long tran­sit strike ended early Mon­day, as­sur­ing that all buses, trol­leys and sub­ways will be up and run­ning by Elec­tion Day.

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