Abdul Kabir Hill may have given up SEPTA when he bought a car, but he still remained affected by the strike, which ended early yesterday morning. Since last Tuesday, Hill had been playing taxi driver for his daughter, her mother and a friend.
“It’s been a little hard,” he said outside his home on 15th and Dauphin streets Sunday morning.
After bumming rides off his own friends during the 1998 and 2005 SEPTA strikes, Hill said he decided to get a car, among other reasons.
“I have children and I couldn’t depend on SEPTA,” Hill said. “They always go on strike and it’s kind of rough when you depend on somebody and then they go strike and they only care about themselves.”
Hill’s brother-in-law is particularly dependent on SEPTA. A non-unionized bus driver, he was not getting paid and was forced to ride out the strike by picking up part-time work.
“He’s kind of upset because he wants to get paid,” Hill said, running his fingers through his dyed red beard. “He’s got a mortgage, you know.”
Noting the city’s reliance on a single transportation system, Hill proposed an alternative.
“They should have two bus systems,” Hill suggested, remarking that SEPTA’s fares are one of the highest in the country next to the Washington D.C. metro. “Let SEPTA keep the trains and then have another bus system running each route and then we’ll see what happens with the competition.”
Before word that the strike had ended hit the news, Hill said SEPTA’s Transit Workers Union Local 234 union President Willie Brown was forcing the city to play to the whims of his needs and wants.
“[Willie Brown] is being selfish because we don’t have any money as it is, and he’s only looking out for himself, not his members,” Hill said, adding that Brown acted without the support of the city.
“They’re utilizing Philadelphians’ time,” he said. “Philadelphians aren’t on the union’s side.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.