The SEPTA strike, which lasted from Nov. 1-7, contributed to a decline in air quality across the city, public health officials found. 

Credit: Tiffany Pham , Tiffany Pham

At 12:01 Tuesday morning, members of the Transit Workers Union — the largest union of SEPTA workers— began a strike after it was not able to reach a contract deal with SEPTA. 

In an email statement, the Transportation Workers Union Local 234 cited issues regarding safety and pension plans as reasons for the strike. The TWU also claimed that after receiving a transit aid package from the state of Pennsylvania in 2009, "SEPTA diverted funds to pay for a bloated management pension plan, with unfunded monthly increases averaging $500."

The TWU is demanding a "fair and well-funded pension plan" without any increase in state or local taxes.  

"Local 234’s bargaining team is prepared to meet round-the-clock," the TWU's statement said. "When SEPTA is ready to stop stalling and start talking, we’re confident we can reach a fair agreement."

The union rejected SEPTA's first strike proposal on Tuesday.

Jeff Kessler, SEPTA Youth Advisory Council executive chairman and a graduate student in both the Engineering and Law Schools, said in an email statement that SEPTA hopes to resolve the situation soon so that transportation in Philadelphia can return to normal. 

"Although it's unfortunate that the TWU has chosen to strike, events like these make the critical impact of SEPTA's service salient to those throughout the entire region," he said. 

In reaction to the issue, Philadelphia and Penn have both formed contingency plans to deal with the lack of public transportation. 

"The City’s EOC will coordinate the shuttle bus transportation of City workers and jurors, while maintaining situational awareness of the transit disruption on traffic conditions, to ensure City government and services remain open during the strike," the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management said in a statement. 

According to the statement, the OEM is partnering with Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, Streets Department, Fleet Management, Public Property, SEPTA, Philadelphia Parking Authority and PennDOT. 

Penn's contingency plan includes encouraging commuters to "to find alternative solutions such as carpooling, biking, and walking," according to a statement released via email. Penn is also partnering with Drexel, University of Pennsylvania Health System and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to "provide complimentary transit services to all employees of these institutions, plus affiliated institutions and organizations at Penn." 

Uber has also committed to providing help to commuters during the strike. In an email released yesterday, Uber Philly stated that they would be "expanding uberPOOL throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area, including at and near all Regional Rail stations to help alleviate congestion along train lines." 

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