SEPTA remains an unreliable city fixture even after ending its strike after less than a week.
On again, off again – the soap opera of the SEPTA strike had our city in a traffic-congested frenzy. Our Center City streets, laid out in a day when the horse and buggy combo were the main means of travel, resembled something of a military stalemate come 5 p.m. – and for days, no one was budging.
Surprisingly enough, our governmental institutions reacted appropriately, working around the clock to ensure a swift end to this bitter strike, which ended 12 a.m. Monday morning.
So if our government functioned at its highest potential, at who could we angry Temple students and Philadelphians, robbed of our World Series title and left sitting on the curb at neglected bus stops for six days, direct our dismay?
For those of you not keeping track, the latest strike was the ninth time SEPTA workers took up picket signs since 1975. That averages out to approximately one strike every four years. So even though it may seem fruitless, someone should have stepped up and skewered SEPTA workers along with their Local Transporters Union 234 leader Willie Brown, the self-proclaimed “most hated man in Philadelphia,” for the disarray they caused during the past week.
Call me a scab if you want, but I stand incredulous as to how this type of reprehensible union strong-arming of our city was permitted. Granted, SEPTA’s service is an invaluable commodity in Philadelphia, the withdrawal of which has crippling effects on our infrastructure. But we as a city have to draw the line somewhere.
After all, TWU Local 234 rejected a deal drawn up by Gov. Rendell and Mayor Nutter that was scrimped and squeezed from Philly’s budget, even though funds are undoubtedly tight. In fact, Gov. Rendell went as far as to call the deal “sensational,” especially in a recession, adding that “the union leadership walked on a victory last night. They just didn’t know when to declare victory.”
As a liberal Democrat who comes from a long line of working class union members, I still have to call foul on SEPTA’s employees for not accepting a completely reasonable deal from a city being crushed under heaps of debt in the current economic downturn earlier than the stroke of midnight Monday morning. It may indeed be time to de-unionize such vital organizations or at least refrain from giving in to their outrageous, hard-line demands.
Senior public relations major Katie Crandley, a daily SEPTA user, shared my discontent.
“The strike has definitely made my morning commute far more difficult. I can’t wait until the thing is resolved, to say the least,” she said during the strike.
It appears, though, there is another entit y to receive its due commendation as well, because when asked how she was currently getting to campus Crandley responded “the shuttle.”
Indeed, Temple enacted a comprehensive plan to lessen the transportation burden on its students and faculty by introducing reduced parking rates that encourage car pooling, as well as a litany of additional shuttle routes and stops – all serving to replace shutdown transit lines.
It’s reassuring to know that even when the city’s infrastructure was cracking and crumbling on account of some bad eggs, we could still put what modicum of trust we have left in city government, and even in Temple. And you know what? Don’t be afraid to restore your confidence in the Phillies next season, as well.
Chase Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.