• COVID-19 Effects on SEPTA

  • Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.
Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

  by ChesterValley
 
As we all know, COVID-19 has been spreading across the globe and the United States. In the Philadelphia metro area:

SEPTA has implemented a reduced Saturday schedule for Regional Rail http://www.septa.org/notice/coronavirus-tips.html

They have also set up a partial used March pass buyback plan http://septa.org/pass-refund-info.html

The current projections are that this situation will continue possibly though August. NJ Transit it down by 40% for ridership as of time of writing. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... rompt-cuts Amtrak is down 40% ridership on the NEC https://media.amtrak.com/2020/03/amtrak ... vironment/

The Inky just posted an update as of 11:25 AM EDT, transit down 46% and Regional Rail down 68% https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronav ... 00317.html

Almost every university across the Greater Philadelphia region has become a cyber school for the next 3 to 4 months, and every business is moving toward working form home.

Simple question I have, will the state have to bail out SEPTA, and will ridership recover, and What does this mean for infrastructure renewal projects?
  by CarterB
 
Only allow one person per row seating.
  by rcthompson04
 
Seeing the state provides a huge operating subsidy to SEPTA, wouldn’t the operating subsidy need to be lower if less trains are running? SEPTA doesn’t have a huge amount of debt service.

Based on the approximately 20 cars at Exton yesterday when I drove by at 330pm, I wouldn’t be shocked if the service is reduced to the Sunday schedule soon.

Ridership will return somewhat, but I think many of us will be working from home more even after the dust settles.
  by JeffK
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:15 am Seeing the state provides a huge operating subsidy to SEPTA, wouldn’t the operating subsidy need to be lower if fewer [less] trains are running?
I can't speak directly to SEPTA's situation but when I've dealt with the economics of things like computer systems, marginal costs are rarely anywhere near linear. They'd save on electricity, but labor costs will go down only if they start furloughing people.

Based on the approximately 20 cars at Exton yesterday when I drove by at 330pm, I wouldn’t be shocked if the service is reduced to the Sunday schedule soon.

Ridership will return somewhat, but I think many of us will be working from home more even after the dust settles.
Agreed, to both.
  by rcthompson04
 
JeffK wrote: Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:04 pm
rcthompson04 wrote: Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:15 am Seeing the state provides a huge operating subsidy to SEPTA, wouldn’t the operating subsidy need to be lower if fewer [less] trains are running?
I can't speak directly to SEPTA's situation but when I've dealt with the economics of things like computer systems, marginal costs are rarely anywhere near linear. They'd save on electricity, but labor costs will go down only if they start furloughing people.

Based on the approximately 20 cars at Exton yesterday when I drove by at 330pm, I wouldn’t be shocked if the service is reduced to the Sunday schedule soon.

Ridership will return somewhat, but I think many of us will be working from home more even after the dust settles.
Agreed, to both.
I think furloughs or reduced hours will happen eventually.
  by ryan92084
 
Most to all outlying stations will be closed after business hours today 3/19 until further notice.
  by rcthompson04
 
Drove by Exton this morning at 710am (roughly 5 minutes after the Great Valley Flyer departs). I think there were maybe a dozen vehicles at the lot. Usually a minimum 150+ vehicles at that time.

I think they need to drop to the Sunday or Christmas schedules.
  by ChesterValley
 
New Statements from 1234 Market:
http://www.septa.org/notice/coronavirus-tips.html
Following Governor Wolf's announcement (03.16) concerning the situation with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, SEPTA will operate the Severe Weather Plan for Regional Rail beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Regional Rail will operate on an ENHANCED SATURDAY SCHEDULE SERVICE LEVEL PLAN (including added service for Cynwyd line and Wilmington/Newark service ending in Newark).
Temporary Closure of Regional Railroad Station Ticket Windows & Waiting Rooms

Following the health recommendations for social distancing, we are temporarily closing the Ticket Windows & Waiting Rooms at ALL outlying Regional Rail Stations beginning Friday, March 20

Fares will continue to be available for purchase at the five Center City Station Ticket Offices and the SEPTA Key Fare Kiosks at these stations
To accommodate changing ridership levels during the COVID-19 crisis, SEPTA is operating reduced weekday Regional Rail service until further notice. Additionally, all city and suburban bus, trolley, Market Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown High Speed Lines will operate a Saturday schedule 7 days a week beginning Sun., March 22. The SEPTA Key Senior & Reduced Fare Card processing programs at 1234 Market Street, Concourse Level and the Accessible Travel Center at Suburban Station are closed until further notice.
Interesting change to come out of all this is that the El and BSL are now running 24/7.

On a somewhat related note, Amtrak has suspended the Keystone service and Pennsylvanian.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone:

Keeping the enhanced Saturday schedules for the time being looks to be the best option for riders.

The Sunday schedules have gaps in service that are too large for what weekday ridership remains.

There is going to be a percentage of riders that must use the service such as riders without access to a vehicle along with essential workers in categories such as health
care that MUST get to work.

This situation has the now-distinct possibility of decimating public transportation of all types for the foreseeable future.

With the mention of new "personal policies" such as social distancing as an example
some riders will no longer use public transportation in favor of driving their vehicles.

With oil now down to around $25/barrel gasoline prices have dropped considerably and
may go down to around or under $2/gallon soon making driving a cheaper option.

In short "mass transit" may never be the same as we know it depending on how long
the current situation lasts especially over a long term (months or even years) basis.

Let's all hope for the best and that we all stay safe...MACTRAXX
  by MACTRAXX
 
ChesterValley wrote: Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:32 pm New Statements from 1234 Market:
http://www.septa.org/notice/coronavirus-tips.html
Following Governor Wolf's announcement (03.16) concerning the situation with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, SEPTA will operate the Severe Weather Plan for Regional Rail beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Regional Rail will operate on an ENHANCED SATURDAY SCHEDULE SERVICE LEVEL PLAN (including added service for Cynwyd line and Wilmington/Newark service ending in Newark).
Temporary Closure of Regional Railroad Station Ticket Windows & Waiting Rooms

Following the health recommendations for social distancing, we are temporarily closing the Ticket Windows & Waiting Rooms at ALL outlying Regional Rail Stations beginning Friday, March 20

Fares will continue to be available for purchase at the five Center City Station Ticket Offices and the SEPTA Key Fare Kiosks at these stations
To accommodate changing ridership levels during the COVID-19 crisis, SEPTA is operating reduced weekday Regional Rail service until further notice. Additionally, all city and suburban bus, trolley, Market Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown High Speed Lines will operate a Saturday schedule 7 days a week beginning Sun., March 22. The SEPTA Key Senior & Reduced Fare Card processing programs at 1234 Market Street, Concourse Level and the Accessible Travel Center at Suburban Station are closed until further notice.
Interesting change to come out of all this is that the El and BSL are now running 24/7.

On a somewhat related note, Amtrak has suspended the Keystone service and Pennsylvanian.
Everyone:

1-Good move by SEPTA to continue the enhanced Saturday "severe weather"
RRD schedules as I previously noted in my earlier post.

2-I found the timing to close all RRD ticket offices and waiting rooms interesting
taking note to the date: (Friday) March 20 - when April monthly passes go on sale.
This is going to create a situation making the Center City stations the only places
to purchase passes and tickets in advance and subjecting all passengers without
tickets or passes subject to the higher on-board penalty charge.

The best comparison with these RRD ticket office/waiting room closures is to
what is offered for Sunday riders.
On Sundays the only ticket offices outside of Center City that are open are:
Paoli, Wilmington and Trenton (NJT office and machines selling three types of
SEPTA one way tickets: $3.75 Trenton Line Intermediate - Levittown to North
Philadelphia; $9.25 Center City Philadelphia -and- $9.25 Anywhere "Tunnel"
via CCP) with all other stations/waiting rooms closed.

3-Operating all transit routes on a Saturday schedule is a good move.
Closing the Key senior and reduced fare offices may be prudent now provided that
riders that need help with their Key cards are able to get help for problems by
phone and/or submitting the card for processing.

MACTRAXX
  by ChesterValley
 
More from SEPTA:

https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronav ... 00320.html
SEPTA has instituted a 10% pay reduction for General Manager Leslie S. Richards and its executive team, effective immediately, Richards wrote in a letter sent to employees Friday. Other “cost-cutting measures” have been or will be put into place, “including elimination of overtime, a freeze on new hires, eliminating marketing efforts where possible, eliminating nonessential employee travel," while it also weighs additional service reductions on Regional Rail and other forms of transit.
SEPTA’s ridership has taken a nosedive as more people heed calls for social distancing, with ridership down 64% on transit and 88% on Regional Rail.
We don't have official guidelines on how long this will last, but projections state we may either be looking at August or even November depending on a lot of unknowns.

On the plus side, SEPTA's Subway stations have finally gotten the cleaning they needed years ago
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone:

With the mention of ridership losses on Regional Rail and Transit routes this is going to create problems for SEPTA and any mass transit systems going forward.

These losses look to be substantial enough that parts of the SEPTA system
may take some time - months or years - or even never recover from.

The best comparison is the "bad old days" of the first half of the 1980s when the SEPTA system suffered an overall ridership decrease that began in 1980 with three fare
increases totalling around 50 percent. Ridership was good in 1979 especially with
the second 1970s oil embargo/gasoline shortages adding to the increase.

In fairness 1980 was a year of double-digit inflation - the highest one year rate
in the past 50 years.

On Regional Rail this led to the Summer 1981 service cutbacks on all lines along with
loss of the RDG diesel services except the Fox Chase-Newtown route (end: early 1983)

Ridership declined for the five year period 1980 to 1984 in which the lowest point was reached. The Regional Rail system's own survival was even threatened.

Beginning in 1985 ridership began to gradually grow each year steadily.
Incentives were offered - with the best example being the Fall 1982 fare decreases
(yes-a decrease in fares to offer new options for riders)
introducing the unlimited use Trailpasses (CTD Transpasses were first sold in 1979)
for the first time.

Ridership recovery may depend on how long this virus problem lasts - and when a
sense of normalcy returns. This could take months or even years to rebuild.

Back in the 80s, 90s and 2000s there was no rideshare services (Uber and Lyft)
offering another alternative to driving taking a percentage of transit ridership.

In closing I remember this "slogan" mentioned in the past:
SEPTA: "Society to End Public Transportation Altogether"
We should hope that this never happens...
MACTRAXX
  by rcthompson04
 
It will depend a lot on how many of us work from home more in the future. If people just work from home more in the future and some never go back to the office regular it will hurt SEPTA a lot.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone:

The recently-posted Letter to Employees notes that SEPTA is going from a 7.3 million dollar surplus to a loss of up to 150 million dollars.

This news is startling to anyone interested in the well being of Public Transport.

Service cuts and fare increases have done detrimental harm to building up ridership from past experiences.

The timing of this year's proposed July 2020 fare increase and changes may only add to problems.

Will the right thing be done to save essential transit services in the Philadelphia area
and elsewhere in the US? MACTRAXX
  by rcthompson04
 
Lansdale and Norristown garages are being closed tonight.