PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Commuters jumped on bikes, grabbed cabs and crammed into carpools as Philadelphia transit workers went on strike Tuesday after the city's main transit agency and a union representing about 4,700 workers failed to reach a contract agreement.
Regional rail travel to the suburbs was unexpectedly disrupted at the start of the evening rush as some pickets blocked access to those facilities for workers, and a number of trains had to be canceled. The pickets began clearing from those facilities around 5 p.m. after SEPTA got an injunction, but the cancelations were complicating an already slow and jam-packed commute.
Union spokesman Jamie Horwitz said the union was working to protect free speech "while still allowing unfettered access to SEPTA facilities and preventing any form of interference."
Regional Rail workers are not part of the strike, and are on a different contract.
The union representing about 4,700 SEPTA workers on Philadelphia's buses, subways and trolleys went on strike at midnight Tuesday.
As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, the TWU 234 bargaining team says they have not heard from SEPTA's management, despite their claims to desire a quick settlement and the need for around-the-clock bargaining.
According to the union, key issues separating the parties include equitable pension reform, affordable health care for union members and their families; and non-economic issues including shift scheduling, break time and other measures that affect driver fatigue.
The union says the two sides remain far apart on those issues. SEPTA says it's hopeful that a tentative agreement will be reached before Election Day in one week.
SEPTA said it was ready to resume bargaining. If no agreement is reached before Election Day, the agency said it would seek an injunction to restore service on that day "to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote."
SEPTA says it'll post a full list of canceled trains on its web site and on Twitter.
Click here for SEPTA's guide What Customers Need to Know During the City Transit Service Interruption.
All SEPTA city bus routes; trolley routes 10, 11, 13, 15, 34 and 36; the Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line are NOT operating.
SEPTA Regional Rail lines, the Norristown High Speed Line, Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and suburban bus routes are attempting to operate on their normal schedules, but several trains were delayed, and more than 30 were canceled for the afternoon rush Tuesday.
Also, CCT, LUCY, and Routes 204, 205, 310 and Cornwells Heights Parking Shuttle are operating.
The city system's daily weekday ridership is about 900,000 trips, and nearly 60,000 public, private and charter school students use it to get to and from school.
Regional Rail trains filled up fast with extra passengers and there were delays during both the morning and afternoon rush hours Tuesday. . Click here to watch FOX 29's Bob Kelly in What's running, what's not and commuter contingencies in place.
If you have a TransPass for buses and subways, you'll be able to use them at all train stations except Forest Hill and Somerton. SEPTA says refunds will be addressed at another time.
If you plan to drive, select Philadelphia Parking Authority garages will let you park for $10 for up to 10 hours, but they're expected to fill up fast. Click here for details on several relaxed parking regulations.
The PPA says they will also provide an extra 60 minute grace period to expired meters in order to accommodate the high parking demand.
Enforcement in residential areas has also been pushed back later into the afternoon.