Could the Philadelphia Transit Strike Determine Who Becomes the Next President?

Hundreds of thousand of bus, trolley and subway riders (and potential voters) in Philadelphia have been left to find alternative means of transportation since Nov. 1 due to a strike by the local Transport Workers Union who work for SEPTA.

November 3, 2016, 2:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

SEPTA Station

f11photo / Shutterstock

On November 1, after months of negotiations between the management of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union Local 234, "more than 4,700 SEPTA workers, including bus, train and trolley operators" went on strike, reports Martine Powers in the "Dr. Gridlock column" for The Washington Post.  "SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways provide about 900,000 rides a day."

In addition to health care, pension and wages, TWU lists "non-economic" issues [PDF] such as "operator and public safety" that need to be addressed.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the strike caused major paralysis during the Tuesday morning commute, with roads across the city backed up due to people choosing to use their cars to get to work.

In addition, Regional Rail service, whose workers are not on strike, was at standing room only. No fares were collected, one passenger told the Inquirer reporter.

If strike is not settled by Nov. 8

"If the strike continues through next week, it could have a significant impact on the election: Thousands of Philadelphia residents may have no means to reach their polling place," adds Powers.

And Pennsylvania is a battleground state in the presidential election, which could add to the urgency of finding a solution to the transit shutdown before next week.

Powers writes that "the agency will pursue legal action to force the union to lift the strike for Election Day."

“If we foresee an agreement will not come to pass, SEPTA intends to seek to enjoin the strike for November 8th to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote,” the agency said in its statement.

Two years ago, Regional Rail workers went on strike. President Obama intervened at the request of then-Governor Tom Corbett to force members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers back to work for 240 days and enter mediation talks with SEPTA management.

Not affected by the strike is SEPTA regional rail service, the Norristown High Speed Line and some bus and trolley routes. See SEPTA Service Interruption Information.

For the latest information, see SEPTA Strike Live Updates in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 in The Washington Post

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.