SEPTA schedules no longer on fixed timetable due to staffing issues

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With so much of its workforce out because of COVID-19, SEPTA has moved its lifeline service away from a fixed timetable. 

More than 200 SEPTA workers have tested positive for coronavirus, and Assistant General Manager Scott Sauer said the transit agency needs more flexibility to staff its buses, trolleys and the Norristown High Speed Line.

“This is a juggling act that we're trying to do, given our available resources,” he said. “We are down by a third of our workforce, and we're trying to utilize, as best as we can, those people that are still able to come to work every day and the number of buses that we have to utilize.”

Service has been changed from a fixed timetable — transit scheduled to arrive at a stop at a certain time — to a “headway-based” schedule. The headway-based schedule promises that a bus will come along — every 15 or 30 minutes, for example — during a specific portion of the day.

Sauer said that allows SEPTA supervisors to expand and contract the time between vehicles on certain routes and move them to more heavily used lines to relieve overcrowding. 

Riders are urged to only use the system if necessary, like essential work or life-sustaining needs such as medical appointments or food shopping. 

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