Commuters get resourceful as transit strike grips Philly


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Stranded commuters jumped on bikes, grabbed cabs and hitched rides with friends or family as Philadelphia transit workers went on strike today after the city's main transit agency and a union representing about 4,700 workers failed to reach a contract agreement.

The walkout, which began at 12:01 a.m., shut down Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses, trolleys and subways that provide about 900,000 rides a day. No new talks were scheduled.

Rail lines serving the suburbs continued to operate but were jammed and running late because of a surge in riders who couldn't take buses or other city transit.

At 69th Street Terminal, a transit hub near the city border in Upper Darby, idle buses sat in a row with "SEPTA OFF DUTY" illuminated in yellow lights. Ramone Whiters, 32, of Drexel Hill, waited there for a friend to give him a ride into the city for work. His car was in the shop.

"At least if they're going to strike, then do it in the summertime," Whiters said. "It's cold to be stranded out here."

Alexia Coleman-Smith, 27, split an Uber so she could get to a station to get a train out to the city's western suburbs. She planned to walk home from the station later in the day to save money.

Brendan McQuiggan used the city's bike-share service to pedal to his job from the downtown area to Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood. He usually takes the subway.

LaBria Wilson, 16, usually takes a bus to get to the station where she grabs a train out to the suburbs and the prep school she attends. But on today she got up an hour early and had her mother drive her to the train.

In declaring the strike, Transport Workers Union Local 234 President Willie Brown said management "refused to budge on key issues including safety issues that would save lives and not cost SEPTA a dime."

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