Philadelphia-Area Commuter Rail on Strike

Two rail unions have forced a shut-down of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority commuter rail service on Saturday (June 14), but not affecting SEPTA bus, trolley, subway or high speed rail service. Gov. Tom Corbett may take action.
June 15, 2014, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday," writes Paul Nussbaum. "Local transit and the Norristown High-Speed Line - which (together) carry about 85 percent of SEPTA's riders - were not affected."

The members of the two rail unions have been working for years without new contracts - the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) since 2009 and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) since 2010.

SEPTA, a five-county transportation agency, informed their riders of alternative transit options. They were not willing to "ask (President) Obama to create an emergency board and order the strikers back to work," a SEPTA spokesperson said. However, Gov. Tom Corbett could make that request. "Under federal railroad law, the creation of such a board would compel the workers to return to the job for 240 days," writes Nussbaum.

The strike comes after a remarkable turnaround in SEPTA, which had been a "debt-mired subject of federal investigation", as we noted last year.

See Inquirer's strike photo gallery.

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Published on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in Philadelphia Inquirer
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