PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork) — Philadelphia’s SEPTA public transit workers went on strike shortly after midnight Tuesday, impacting nearly 800,000 travelers through the morning commute.
Close to 5,000 transit workers walked off the job as contract talks remain at the impasse, 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported.READ MORE: Commuters Say Traffic In New York City Is An Accident Waiting To Happen
The Transport Workers Union Local 234 has been in contract talks with SEPTA over pension reform, healthcare and raises. The union has apparently been deadlocked over payments into pension plans.
“The decision by TWU President Willie Brown leaves thousands of SEPTA customers without the transit services they rely on for travel to-and-from work, school and medical appointments,” SEPTA said in a statement Tuesday. “In doing so, Mr. Brown walked away from a contract offer that would have provided his members pay raises, enhanced pension benefits, maintained health care coverage levels and continued job security, while also remaining fair and affordable for the taxpayers and riders who fund SEPTA.”
The SEPTA strike is affecting all subway, bus and trolley routes in Philadelphia.
According to SEPTA, the Regional Rail will be the only effective means of travel within the city. Service on the Suburban Bus, Trolley Routes 101 & 102, the Norristown High Speed Line, LUCY service and CCT Connect will also remain intact.
Some are concerned that the strike may last through Election Day on Nov. 8.READ MORE: NYPD Hosts Block Party In Same Mount Eden Neighborhood Where Children Were Caught In Middle Of Gunfire
“This has been one tough trip and I’m upset,” one commuter said. “I wish they could get this over with.”
SEPTA said in a statement that they “intend to seek to enjoin the strike to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote.”
Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney also released a statement following the strike Tuesday morning:
“I urge both SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union to maintain communication despite the work stoppage. Tens of thousands of Philadelphians rely on the buses, trolleys and subways, so it is vital for everyone that this situation be resolved as quickly as possible.
“And I urge residents to have patience during this period. We expect that traffic will be greatly impacted, so make alternate travel arrangements as soon you are able, including carpooling, walking and biking. Check with your employer about the possibility of a flexible work schedule to avoid the rush hours. And please — check on elderly neighbors who rely on SEPTA for trips to the grocery store or doctor. This period won’t be easy, but by pulling together as a community we can lessen the difficulties for everyone.”
Union officials said they are continuing talks with management.MORE NEWS: Bear Spotted Roaming Connecticut Neighborhood
The last time SEPTA went on strike was in 2009, CBS Philly reported. The strike lasted six days.