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August 11, 2023

As SEPTA workers begin mandated safety training, riders should expect delays

Over the next 2 months, transit operators will be pulled from their duties so they can complete a course prompted by recent crashes

Transportation SEPTA
SEPTA Safety Trainings Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

SEPTA will begin pulling transit operators from their duties Monday so that they can complete a one-day safety course prompted by the series of crashes this summer. Riders should expect delays.

SEPTA's bus and trolley routes may have service delays in the weeks ahead while the transit authority's workforce undergoes mandated safety trainings prompted by a series of crashes this summer. 

Over the next two months, 9,500 SEPTA workers will be pulled for their regular duties to complete the one-day training course. SEPTA's bus and trolley operators are up first, beginning Monday.

SEPTA has said it will attempt to minimize disruptions caused by the training, but some delays may occur. Riders can see real-time updates on SEPTA's website and Twitter account, or by calling (215) 580-7800. 

The trainings will emphasize SEPTA's existing safety guidelines and allow workers to give feedback on their experiences. 

"The safety for our customers and employees is always our top priority, and we are redoubling our efforts to be even more intentional about safety in everything that we do, at all levels of the authority," SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards said. "The recent series of accidents has caused us to look internally with a critical eye to ensure we embrace safety as a core value every day."

SEPTA has worked with the labor unions representing its employees to develop the content used in the training session, officials said. It also has dispatched safety officers to emphasize that SEPTA employees need to be vigilant about safety.

There have been eight crashes involving SEPTA vehicles over the last three weeks, including a July 21 collision between two buses on Roosevelt Boulevard that killed a passenger and injured 19 others. Two days later, four people were hospitalized after a SEPTA bus crashed in Fishtown

Another seven people were injured when two trolleys collided in Upper Darby on July 24. The following day, a SEPTA bus crashed into a building in Center City, injuring the driver. 

An out-of-service trolley later rolled out of a SEPTA depot and derailed in Southwest Philly, crashing into an SUV and the historic Blue Bell Tavern. The trolley had a mechanic on board, but no one was at its controls, officials said. Two people in the SUV were injured. 

Six more people were injured Wednesday when a pair of SEPTA buses collided in South Philly. 

SEPTA vehicles also have been involved in two other notable crashes caused by others. On Sunday, a car driven by an off-duty SEPTA worker crashed into a trolley in Kingsessing, injuring four people. The driver was charged with driving under the influence, aggravated assault and related charges. 

On Tuesday, an SUV driving in the wrong direction in Haverford crashed into a SEPTA bus and a tractor trailer, injuring four people. Police said the driver may have been experiencing a medical emergency. 

SEPTA has vowed to investigate each of the incidents and examine its staffing levels and policies. 

"We will start with our frontline employees and move through our entire workforce" Richards said. "This commitment to reaching each and every employee means that SEPTA service will be impacted. When we say nothing is more important than safety, we mean it."