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April 07, 2020

SEPTA will shift to 'Lifeline Service Schedule,' close stations amid COVID-19 restrictions

As ridership declines, further operational changes set to take effect April 9

Public Transportation SEPTA
SEPTA Lifeline Service Schedule Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

SEPTA is further reducing operations during the coronavirus pandemic with a new "life service schedule" that will take effect on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause a decline in SEPTA ridership and jeopardize employee health, the authority will further limit service options across the system this week.

A "lifeline service schedule" to be implemented on Thursday will result in the closure of numerous subway and trolley stations, the suspension of of six Regional Rail lines, and further reductions of bus service to emphasize priority routes, officials said.

RELATED: SEPTA issuing refunds for weekly and monthly passes unused during stay-at-home orders

Under the new plan, SEPTA's buses, subways and trolleys will continue to follow Saturday schedules. Remaining Regional Rail service will run every two hours.

The following systemwide changes will take effect on April 9:

Market-Frankford Line: Ten stations will be closed, with 18 remaining open. The closures will be at Church, Tioga, Somerset, York-Dauphin, Second Street, Fifth Street, 13th Street, 56th Street, 63rd Street and Millbourne.

Broad Street Line/Broad-Ridge Spur: Eight stations will close, with 16 remaining open. The closures will be at Tasker-Morris, Lombard-South, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Susquehanna- Dauphin, Wyoming, Logan and Chinatown.

Buses and Trolleys: Service will be limited to approximately 60 core routes. SEPTA prioritized routes that provide access to essential services, as well as those with connections to the Broad Street, Market-Frankford Lines and Regional Rails. Approximately half of the trolley stations in the Center City tunnel will be closed, including 13th Street, 19th Street, 33rd Street and 36th Street. The Route 101 Trolley will continue to operate with bus service, and the Route 102 remains suspended.

Norristown High Speed Line: No additional changes with this new schedule.

Regional Rail: Service on six lines will be suspended and two others shortened. There will no service on the Chestnut Hill East, Chestnut Hill West, Cynwyd, Manayunk/Norristown, West Trenton and Wilmington Newark Lines.

The Paoli/Thorndale Line will have service only between Center City and Malvern. The Landsdale/Doylestown Line will only travel between Center City and Lansdale.

Airport Line service will be reduced from hourly trips to every two hours.

The coronavirus pandemic has slashed SEPTA ridership by about 80% over the past few weeks.

As of Tuesday afternoon, three SEPTA workers had died from COVID-19, while 76 cases had been confirmed among staff.

“Our SEPTA employees have been incredible in ensuring we maintain essential service to provide access to hospitals, grocery stores and other life-sustaining services,” Richards said Tuesday. “As this crisis continues, we are now experiencing what other transit agencies across the country already have – workforce shortages due to COVID-19-related absences.”

To protect staff and riders, SEPTA had already implemented a back-door entry policy on buses and trolleys, eliminating fare payments for these services. SEPTA Transit Police will now be engaging customers to ensure that they are traveling for essential purposes.

“If you are not traveling to an essential job or for urgent personal business like a medical appointment, you need to stay home and help us preserve service and space for those who need it most,” Richards said. “Unfortunately, too many people are not cooperating with this request, and they are putting the health and lives of our essential customers and employees at risk.”

The broad decline in ridership has had a severe impact on the authority's revenue projections.

"While SEPTA had a $7.3 million surplus for the first eight months of the fiscal year, we are now projecting at least a $150 million loss for this fiscal year," Richards said.

As part of the $25 billion in federal emergency funding approved to support transit systems, SEPTA is slated to receive a $643 million bailout. In addition to 10% pay reductions for the executive team, SEPTA plans to eliminate overtime, freeze hiring and reduce marketing.

The lifeline service schedule is intended to provide essential travel only to hospitals, grocery stores and life-sustaining businesses, officials said.