Officials ask public to use SEPTA only for essential travel as 'Lifeline Service Schedule’ now in effect

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  SEPTA’s “Lifeline Service Schedule” is now in effect. The transit agency is focusing on essential travel while urging most people to stay home.

Eighteen Market-Frankford LIne and Broad Street Line stations are closed, six regional rail lines are suspended and bus and trolley service have been cut down to 60 routes.

City Councilmember Cindy Bass, who has been talking to SEPTA officials, says cutting service and focusing only on essential travel had to happen to keep riders and transit workers safe.

“I also have relatives that work for SEPTA and have been alerting me for quite sometime now about the crowded conditions, the sense of lawlessness,” Bass said.

SEPTA says three employees have died due to the coronavirus. TWU 234, the largest union representing SEPTA workers, says all three worked in the mechanical departments in three different depots in the city but it’s not clear where they contracted the virus. Union officials also say 48 workers reported to them that they tested positive.

SEPTA says the stations still open and the lines and routes that are still running give people access to essential places like hospitals or grocery stores, so those who need to get supplies can still go get them. 

And those making essential trips are asked to wear a mask or cover their face. SEPTA has given face masks to all frontline workers.

Bass says the hope now is that people who don’t have to go anywhere avoid using SEPTA.

“If they’re just going to visit a friend, to hang out with some friends, that is absolutely unacceptable especially right now in a time of crisis,” she said.