SEPTA workers end strike

The week-long SEPTA strike, which had students and faculty in a transportation limbo, ended Monday.

The announcement came at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning from Gov. Ed Rendell, after a negotiation session between the union and SEPTA management that lasted throughout the night.

Many Temple students and area residents said they were happy that SEPTA resumed its services.

Christine Bottoms, a junior psychology major, said the transit strike prevented her from making it to class.

“I live in Northeast Philadelphia and I had to miss class on Monday and Tuesday,” Bottoms said. “I missed a test but, luckily, my teacher let me make it up. Most of my teachers were understanding, but I had friends who had teachers who didn’t let them make stuff up.”

The strike only affected the subway and bus systems. The regional rail, which works under a different union, did not strike.

“Thank God for that, because if the regional rail had gone on strike, I would have been screwed,” Tony Di Polvere, a graduate journalism student, said.

Since the rails were the only transit line open, many of the trains were delayed, and students had to wait in long lines to board the trains.

“The only way it affected me directly was that the R-6 was about 20 minutes late every day,” said Di Polvere.

Mary Parker, a SEPTA employee for 21 years who works as an attendant at the Cecil B. Moore subway station, said she was happy to be back to work.

“I spent the week stretched out on my couch,” Parker said. “But I’m excited to get back to work. I’m happy.”

In order to try to help students who would have normally used SEPTA to get to and from Center City, Temple offered continual bus shuttle services along Broad Street.

The university stopped the shuttle service at noon on Monday.

“We posted updates [by] about mid-morning, and put updates on the Web site as well as the telephone hotline,” said Mark Eyerly, Temple’s chief communications officer. “The shuttle service stopped service at noon, because all of transit lines would be running again by the evening rush hour.”

Temple also put up a Web site to help place students with rides to and from campus.

Bottoms said she used the service to find a neighbor who would be able to give her rides.

“I had to drive to school with a complete stranger,” Bottoms said. “It worked out well; the kid was nice, and he was actually in one of my classes …”

Eyerly said the university did the best they could to provide students with alternative forms of transportation.

“We provided thousands of rides on the shuttles during the week,” Eyerly said.

City residents who live around campus were also affected by the strike.

Joe Bryant, 50, lives in South Philadelphia and commutes to his job as a caregiver in Northeast Philadelphia.

He said he spent a lot of time walking last week.

“I had to call up a couple of favors from old friends to give me rides,” Bryant said.

Bryant, who was not able to use Temple shuttles, said he would have been happy if he had been given the opportunity.

Eyerly said although there were some problems, the student reaction has been positive.

“The measures [the university] took worked about as well as it could. With the increased volume of traffic, sometimes it took longer to get from point A to point B than riders would have liked, or we would have liked,” Eyerly said. “That’s a result of the traffic volume verse the capacity for us to handle it.”

“You can’t replace the transit system of one of the largest cities in America, but if you can get to Broad Street, or if you can get to regional rail, you can get to Temple.”

Emily Catalano can be reached at catalano@temple.edu.

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