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March 16, 2020

SEPTA to operate Regional Rails on winter storm schedule, reducing service amid coronavirus outbreak

SEPTA Coronavirus
SEPTA cancellations delays coronavirus COVID-19 Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

SEPTA's Regional Rail service will be reduced 25% and follow a winter storm schedule beginning Tuesday. Bus routes and subways will maintain their regular schedules, but officials said expect that to change, too.

SEPTA's Regional Rail service will be reduced 25% and follow a winter storm schedule beginning Tuesday as the commuter trains join the growing list of things impacted by the spread of the coronavirus.

LATEST: SEPTA reduces transit services, all lines to operate on Saturday schedule because of COVID-19

The transit authority officials announced the service changes Monday afternoon. The move allows SEPTA to use less manpower – 15% fewer crew members to operate trains under the winter storm schedule. The number of trains running on a daily basis will drop from 769 to 581, SEPTA's assistant general manager of operations Scott Sauer said.

SEPTA's bus and subway services will not change immediately, but there eventually will be modifications to those schedules, as well, Sauer said.

"In my 30 year career, I've never seen a more challenging event than what we're faced with today," Sauer said. 

Officials warned riders to be prepared for disruptions, but it will refund fares for commuters who won't be using their passes in the meantime. Instructions to obtain those refunds for unused portions of weekly or monthly passes will be posted on SEPTA's website, SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said.

SEPTA was forced to cancel 14 Regional Rail trains Monday morning after a number of engineers and conductors called out from work because of the coronavirus.

Additionally, ridership on SEPTA is down because more people are working at home and because schools have been closed in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.

Sauer said those people in essential services jobs who will continue to ride SEPTA should check SEPTA's website, follow its various twitter accounts or download the SEPTA app to get the latest information about the system 

On Monday there were| 76 cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, with the vast majority popping up in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. The highest-number of COVID-19 cases in the state have emerged in Montgomery County, where there are 30 positive cases. There have been no deaths recorded yet in Pennsylvania from the coronavirus.

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