It’s normal for Dan Lapsley to stand in the center aisle of a crowded SEPTA regional rail car on the way home from his classes on Main Campus.
The junior math and physics major has noticed that depending on the day, he might be squished in the aisle, or have a bit more room to breathe all the way home to his stop in Warminster, Pennsylvania. On Tuesdays, he said he’s squished back-to-back. Wednesdays, he can comfortably cross his legs and lean on chairs.
But he said he’s not too upset about the railcar shortage that caused the packed conditions on SEPTA regional rail trains.
“I’m an adult, you’ve got to suck it up sometimes,” Lapsley said. “That’s how it works.”
SEPTA announced in early July that its SilverLiner V railcars, which comprise about one-third of cars on the regional rail, were being taken out of commission to repair a defect. Thirteen thousand passenger seats would be lost across the regional rail lines, the agency said.
The first SilverLiner V cars returned to the rails last Thursday, but students who use the regional rail will continue to face delays and crowded conditions on SEPTA trains for the next several months.
To prepare for students returning to Campus, SEPTA met with officials from Temple to discuss the railcar shortage, said Kristin Geiger, SEPTA’s Public Information Manager.
“We wanted to make sure students and staff coming from outside Philadelphia were fully aware of the changes so they could plan ahead,” Geiger said.
Geiger said SEPTA will begin providing supplementary bus services starting Tuesday for certain stations across select Regional Rail lines so students can be dropped off at Fern Rock station and take the Broad Street Line to Main Campus.
Geiger said she thanks students and staff for their patience during this issue, but some students are getting fed up.
“Sometimes trains don’t even come when they’re supposed to or a different backup train comes and it’s a really old train,” Doris Morris, senior psychology major said.
Morris said commuting is “more annoying” now because officials check for tickets before students go up the stairs to the platform. The officials stand at the bottom of the stairs and do not allow people without tickets up onto the deck between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., according to SEPTA’s website.
Students are unable to buy tickets while on the train leaving Philadelphia — because of this, Morris said she has missed trains.
But Morris said she’s glad SEPTA reacted to keep passengers safe.
“As long as the transportation is safe, nobody wants to be on an unsafe train,” she said. “As long as they fix it soon, though.”
Kevin Clark, Temple’s chief operating officer, encouraged students in an email last week to use other modes of transportation.
“Though SEPTA is doing everything it can to bring cars back to service and mitigate the situation, we want to bring your attention to the commuting challenges you may face if using SEPTA Regional Rail and the need to monitor changes in schedules, train arrival times and fare collections,” Clark wrote.
Junior biochemistry major Aaron Cushnie tried taking the bus at the beginning of the year, but found the delays he met on the train once or twice times a week were more bearable.
“Sometimes the trains will be really late,” Cushnie said. “I’ll just ask around to see if someone wants to hang out or just grab a cup of coffee and wait.”
Although delays are frequent, Cushnie said it won’t stop him from commuting a fourth year, because he doesn’t want the financial stress that would come from living on campus.
“You just have to wake up earlier to make your train.”
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at email@example.com.