A small crowd formed on the corner of South Broad Street and Washington Avenue as people waited for the promised Temple shuttle to pick them up. One dark gray car drove past with signs on his windows saying “Need a ride?” and people on bikes shouted to the crowd that SEPTA was on strike just in case the motley crew of students and employees had not heard the news.
When SEPTA declared its intention to strike late last night, many people were shocked. Some did not even hear of the strike till they saw the subway entrances blocked off with black metal bars.
“You wake up this morning and you hear they are on strike,” said Mary Hoang, a Temple law student. “No one was really prepared for it.”
SEPTA had threatened to strike during the World Series, but after the issue of health insurance was resolved, it seemed that a resolution was near.
At 3 a.m. Tuesday, 5,500 workers went on strike. The remaining unresolved issues in the negotiation dealt with pension plans, length of contract, and the workers’ rights to pick the equipment they work on based on their seniority. They announced the impending strike late Monday night.
Many Temple students did not realize that the strike started until the morning. The strike has created many problems for students who live off campus.
Andrew Kearney, a freshman broadcasting major, got a ride from his girlfriend’s father. Denise Zhang walked to campus from the Race Vice subway stop, while other students took taxis or got rides from friends.
“I’m not mad, it’s just definitely annoying,” said Gina Benigno, a senior broadcast journalism major.
On Oct. 2, William Bergman sent out an email on behalf of Temple that even if SEPTA decided to strike, Temple would remain open. Temple has provided additional services for those who live off campus.
Temple shuttle buses now run down Broad St picking up students who show their ID cards.
“What we found was that many people could find their way to Broad,” Bergman said. “We’ve done this with several other SEPTA strikes.”
Supervisor of Service Operations Mark Gottlieb, said there are seven separate buses that run approximately every half-hour during non-peak hours and every hour during peak hours.
“We plan on keeping these going for the duration of the strike,” Gottlieb said.
Many students relied on the shuttles to get to campus. Frank Lozzi, a junior business major took the shuttle from Broad and Snyder this morning. He normally takes the subway.
Hoang tried to take the shuttle this morning, but by the time the shuttle got to her stop at Broad and Arch streets, they were filled. Two buses passed the group waiting, so Hoang and three other students took a taxi.
“It’s nice that they do it, but there weren’t enough buses,” Hoang said.
Each bus holds 40 people, but many bus drivers allowed people to stand in the aisles so they did not have to wait for the next bus to come. One bus held nearly 70 people. All the passengers packed themselves close together to ensure that everyone could get on.
Bergman also stated that Temple has reduced parking rates for students driving into campus. The rates are even further reduced for those who car pool. Temple is currently developing a system for students who need a ride to campus.
Students post the area where they wish to be picked up and others can post offers for rides.
Temple has also added more security at the Regional Rail station.
These accommodations will remain in place till the strike ends.
“After a day without SEPTA, we’ve realized the value and the importance that people put on the SEPTA system,” Bergman said.
Rebecca Hale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.