Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Septa Strike!

Transport Workers Union, Local 234, announced that it would strike today in response to faltering negotiations with the Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA). This strike interrupts or completely discontinues most subway, trolley and bus routes, and poses delays and congestion on regional rail service.

Many people living in and around Philadelphia depend on SEPTA to get to work and from work to home. This strike thus represents a huge disruption in the daily lives of these thousands of people. I had an interview this morning, only a few miles from Temple's campus; ordinarily this commute could be taken care of with a simple subway ride costing under $2 one way. Instead, the strike forced me to take a taxi, which cost $12 to get me only a little over half way to my destination (I walked the rest of the way). This situation was extremely frustrating, and as a college student with an very limited income, I couldn't afford to make this trip more than on a one-time basis. I can only imagine the stress this strike causes to the average person who risks losing his or her job if they are not able to get to work. Making matters worse, many of these people do not have access to other forms of transportation, as most do not own cars and cannot afford taking taxis.

For which party, SEPTA or the Union, does this situation represent a bigger PR dilemma? One one hand, SEPTA has refused (or is unable) to meet workers' demands. On the other hand, it is the workers who have chosen to walk off the job and literally leave thousands of people stranded.

To SEPTA's credit, it has been communicating to the public in this tough situation by promptly posting alternate routes on its website and keeping its followers on Twitter up-to-date on delays and route changes.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this situation pans out, and to see how each side portrays itself in the media. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon.

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