Administrators are pleased that their SEPTA contingency plan has operated with few problems, but they are not surprised. The university has been planning for a strike for more than a year, chief communications officer Mark Eyerly said.
“It’s taken a concerted effort,” Eyerly said.
The university began providing discounted parking and shuttle services Monday morning after union workers from Transportation Workers Local 234 and United Transportation Union Local 1594 walked off the job at 12:01 Monday morning.
The shuttle services – provided by the Office of Facilities Management – along with discounted parking rates, are the centerpieces of the university’s comprehensive plan to supplement public transportation to the university’s campuses.
The university decided to formulate an emergency plan in case of a strike a year and a half ago, when SEPTA first threatened to walk.
Clarence Armbrister, senior vice president, led the task force. Armbrister assembled representatives from the Office of Student Affairs, Human Resources, Facilities Management and the Temple Health system, along with Dean of Students Ainsley Carry and Provost Ira Schwartz.
These administrators were given the task of putting together a plan for the university in case of a strike, Eyerly said. Their original plan of action was supplemented by planning done when TWU local 234 announced they would strike on Oct. 31.
Even though most of the planning was done in advance, Eyerly said, the university was careful to keep most of their ideas for the strike quiet. Administrators did not want to cause unnecessary alarm before it was certain that there would be a strike.
The university is focusing on communication, safety and accessibility for its commuting students, Robert Buchholz, associate vice president of Facilities Management, said.
“If people get familiar with where the buses stop,” Buchholz said, “We’ll be ok. We’re going to try and make sure the information is out.”
The university plans to keep all supplementary measures in place as long as SEPTA workers strike, Eyerly said. During the last SEPTA work stoppage, which happened in 1998, the university provided shuttle service for commuting students for the duration of the 40-day strike.
Initially, the cost for the temporary shuttles will come out of the Facilities Management budget, Buchholz said.
“We’ll put up the cost,” Buchholz said, “and the university will look at it and decide what to do.”
Chris Reber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org