By midnight Wednesday night, a contract agreement had not been reached, but a neither had a strike been called for by the union, according to a SEPTA representative at the Travel Information Center.
SEPTA union members have said before that a strike could occur later if problems arise in the talks that followed.
A phone call to the Local 234 Transportation Workers Union around 11 p.m. was met with short answers about the negotiations still being in progress. By 1:30 a.m. negotiations were still continuing and a SEPTA representative said that morning rush hour should run without any glitches, but was unsure of where things would go following that.
The now expired contract covered nearly 5,000 SEPTA workers. A strike would bring all bus, el and subway operations within the city to a halt. Bus routes outside of the city would continue to run, but would detour to avoid entering the city’s limits. All regional rails, which accept TransPasses during strikes, would continue to run as well.
“People should know what their travel alternatives are and plan ahead, Bernard Cohen, a SEPTA assistant general manager, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Throughout the week, SEPTA has done what it could to inform riders of alternatives to its above- and underground routes. Flyers were available at all major subway and bus stops and printed in the various media throughout the city.
Temple, for its part, has set up a bus service up and down Broad Street, but information wasn’t available for students until the late afternoon yesterday, and should a strike occur later, it is not clear if the program will be able to be implemented quickly enough.
A strike would largely affect the commuter population at Temple, but on-campus residents who work or intern would feel the affects as well.
The same bus service was available during SEPTA’s 40-day strike during the summer of 1998.
According to Victor Vazquez, special assistant to the Vice President, in the event of strike, it will be “business as usual at Temple.”
Nelly Molina, a graduate accounting student, uses the subway to get to school and this is her only option being that she doesn’t have a car. Fortunately she lives in Center City and could pick up Temple’s bus service or else the regional rail.
Luz Cardenas, spokesperson for Mayor Street, said that the mayor was hoping negotiations between the company and workers go well, but unlike President Bush’s power, Street has no jurisdiction and cannot intervene.
“SEPTA is a quasi-state run organization,” said Cardenas. It receives money from the city, state and federal government.
The city has put out a contingency plan to get its workers to city hall in the event of a strike, but like Temple, it was not made public until yesterday.
The major sticking point in the contract negotiations has been the healthcare package and its cost. SEPTA would like to the increase the package price for prescriptions. That along with the comment made by a SEPTA official that Viagra is the fourth most prescribed drug to SEPTA transit workers has upset many of the Local 234 members.
The public transportation service currently spends $41 million for health care and will see it increase to $55 million under its offer.
Many students remember the effects of the 40-day strike.
“The subway doesn’t run, the “L” doesn’t run, the buses don’t run and the trolley’s don’t run,” said Michael Green, sophomore biochemistry major who missed two midterms in high school because of the strike.
Travel alternatives for students
Shuttle Bus Service from Main to City Hall will start at 7 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
The two, 45-passenger shuttles will stop at Berks, Girard, Spring Garden, Arch and City Hall.
There is also travel between Cheltenham Avenue and Main between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight with stops at Cheltenham, 66th Avenue, Olney, Lindley, Hunting Park, Ontario, Indiana, Huntingdon and Berks.
Four 14-passenger vans will leave the Veterans Stadium parking lot between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. stopping at Veterans Stadium, Oregon, Snyder, Washington, Locust and all stops on the shuttle loop.
All transportation is free and stops are only along Broad Street. All regular shuttle services between campuses and off campus housing will remain unchanged.
Discounted parking will be made available on campus for carpooling students at Parking Area #4 and #7 and the Liacouras Garage. Non-carpooling students can get discount parking as well, but for a higher price.
Discounted parking will be available at the Health Sciences campus as well.