Buses Roll As SEPTA and TWU Reach Tentative Settlement
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Philadelphia’s buses, trolleys, subways and elevated trains got rolling again Monday after transit workers settled a 14-day strike.
Service resumed at midafternoon, a few hours after the executive board of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 unanimously approved a settlement reached earlier in the day with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
The striking drivers, mechanics, track and signal operators, and clerical workers are to vote on the agreement Friday.
Union members said the three-year agreement provides a 3 percent wage increase each year and improves pensions and life insurance benefits.
``We’re happy that it’s over,″ union president Harry Lombardo said. ``The TWU set a variety of goals in sick pay, pension and benefits, and I believe we have met those goals.″
The agreement will cover all city transit and the Frontier bus lines serving the suburbs.
The third division on strike is Red Arrow, which covers trolleys and buses running from the suburbs into the city. It is partially represented the United Transportation Union, which agreed to return to work under the old contract as long as talks continue.
At a city bus garage in north Philadelphia, Clarence Thompson Jr., a driver for 29 years, stopped by to greet co-workers. He planned to return before daybreak Tuesday to start his route between Fern Rock and South Philadelphia.
``You cannot make any money being on strike and then it hurt a lot of people in the street, especially the poor people who use the bus to get back and forth to work every day,″ he said. ``I don’t like to see them hurt.″
The strike shut down buses, trolleys, commuter trains and subways in a five-county region, affecting nearly 400,000 daily riders and 5,800 SEPTA workers. Philadelphia has the nation’s fourth-largest public transit system.
The only SEPTA services still operating last week were regional rail lines linking the city and suburbs, a small downtown bus route and services for the handicapped.
Linda Aptor was the first passenger aboard the first bus to stop in Haverford. Aptor, who usually rides a bus and an elevated train to work, had stayed home the past week because the $50 in daily cab fare was too expensive.
``I’m really relieved,″ she said.
Darryl Goodwin, a shoe salesman at a downtown mall, was less forgiving.
``I know a lot of older people use those buses and they kind of just kicked everybody to the curb,″ he said. ``I think we should boycott them.″