Philly Fiasco

SEPTA takes 120 cars out of service due to structural defects

City Terrain East News Transportation
SEPTA Silverliner V (Jarrett Stewart / Flickr)
SEPTA Silverliner V (Jarrett Stewart / Flickr)

Over the holiday weekend, SEPTA revealed that it had taken a third of its passenger rail cars out of service due to “structural defects.” 120 Silverliner V cars will be out of commission until crucial repairs are performed.

According to an agency spokeswoman, the six-year-old cars were taken off the tracks July 1 after staff noticed some of the cars leaning off-center, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Due to the fleet’s overnight shrinkage, some stakeholders raised concerns over commuting delays post-July 4. Those fears of long waits and crowded trains were borne out in full: With 12,000 fewer seats, some commuters are experiencing travel times double and triple the usual length. Local news outlets report riders standing between cars, and recommend alternative forms of transit.

Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft are capitalizing on the SEPTA fiasco: Uber‘s offering 40 percent discount on rides to and from regional rail stations, while Lyft is offering $50 off the first ride for new users.

For all the hassle, SEPTA maintains that the car’s flaws don’t threaten riders’ safety, and the decision to take cars offline was done out of an abundance of caution. On most days, up to 15 percent of the system’s 400 cars are out of service for maintenance and repair.

New trains, including Amtrak’s high-speed Acela, have growing pains. In 2010, SEPTA spent $330 million in capital funds to expand its fleet and meet growing demand for regional rail service. The cars, manufactured by a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group and assembled in Philadelphia, have been plagued by mechanical issues, namely doors don’t function properly in very cold weather, since operations began:

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