Full statement from SEPTA spokesperson on March 22:
SEPTA’s top priority is ensuring the safety and security of customers and employees. The transit system has served as the region’s backbone during the pandemic, providing travel for essential workers and access to healthcare, groceries, pharmacies and other vital services. As the region transitions to recovery, SEPTA will be ready to provide safe and efficient service for residents.
The pandemic has exacerbated challenges with the vulnerable population on the system, including individuals experiencing poverty, homelessness, drug addition, mental health problems. This is a societal issue, and SEPTA is working closely with the City of Philadelphia and other partners on meaningful, short- and long-term solutions.
SEPTA has already taken a number of steps to deal with these issues. During the pandemic, the SEPTA Transit Police Department has expanded patrols of Its SAVE (Serving A Vulnerable Entity) Unit, which includes teams of transit police officers patrolling with social service professionals to help connect members of the vulnerable population with shelters, medical assistance and other resources.
The Authority is also moving forward with additional plans to enhance the system’s security. This has included the difficult decision to temporarily close the Somerset Station on the Market-Frankford Line due to unsafe conditions. Also, with the Market-Frankford Line experiencing some of the most challenging conditions, SEPTA is planning to add security guards between 15th Street and Frankford Transportation Center. Plans are also being developed for further use of surveillance video for real-time, virtual patrols.
Data-driven decision-making is an important part of our police deployment models, and that is being done constantly to factor in the most up-to-date information. The SEPTA Transit Police Department welcomes input from its members, and supervisors are frequently asked to seek it from their teams.