SEPTA strike wreaks havoc on commuters

By Shane Evans
November 4, 2005

KRT

The SEPTA strike that began early on Halloween has already caused massive problems for the Philadelphia area, and more specifically, members of the Cabrini family.

Announced early Monday morning, the strike is supposed to displace over 400,000 regular travelers and in that number will be many people who commute to Cabrini.

“It is very inconvenient. I have to take the R100 and the R100 isn’t running. They really need to get it together and solve the problem. Now I have to walk all the way to another station to catch the R5 and it is just very inconvenient because I live on 60th and Market and its like a mile long walk to get there!” exclaimed cafeteria chef Michelle Waters.

Inconvenience is definitely the right word for the situation. People have been displaced and delayed on their morning travel and its no wonder that they are upset. In some extreme cases, getting to work is impossible and jobs are lost because of it.

SETPA has shut down the use of all bus, subway and trolley lines, and the only available transportation is the regional line that runs to a very limited number of stops. It is the ninth strike that SEPTA has had to endure since 1975, with the most recent being in 1998, which lasted 40 days.

An anonymous commuter said, “I commuted to Cabrini for over a year and luckily I now have a car. I cannot imagine having to deal with SEPTA now. I can see both points of view, both the SEPTA workers and the commuters, but a larger part of me is sympathizing with all the commuters. Jobs will be loss, students will suffer, and parents alike, this is a huge problem that will not go away.”

The main issue of this particular strike is whether the workers (some 5,400 currently striking) should contribute to their health-care insurance. The offer from SEPTA was to have its employees pay five percent of the insurance costs, but that didn’t sit well with the union, and subsequently a strike was announced.

People in all lines of work and otherwise have been displaced because of the strike. Students across the Philadelphia area who commute to inner-city schools anywhere else have been put in a really hard situation because they must now find alternate transportation. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there was a 25 percent increase in absences throughout the Philadelphia school district.

Robert Walker, another chef in our cafeteria has had to go through changes in his morning routine, not to mention spending more money in order to get into work on time, “It is costing me more money coming on the R5 than it is coming on the R100 and its just very inconvenient. My wife has to get up in the morning to drop me off at the 30th Street bus station and I’m coming from South Philadelphia. It takes a while because the expressway is always all backed up.”

The strike is affecting everyone in the Philadelphia area and as of now, there is very little progress being made. Officials from both sides have made it known that they aren’t happy with their oppositions proposals and that holds nothing but bad news for the thousands of people in the area who need to get around.

If things don’t improve soon, we are quite certain to see another 40 day strike, similar to what we saw in 1998. Until this is all over, people like Michelle and Robert are going to have to adapt to the chaos and hope it ends sooner rather than later.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@yahoogroups.com . The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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