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Philadelphia Transit Strike Ends, Just In Time For Election Day

Market-Frankford line trains remain idle at a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority station in Upper Darby, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, on Nov. 1. Philadelphia's transit strike ended early Monday, as SEPTA said it has reached a tentative, five-year deal with the union.
Jacqueline Larma

A nearly weeklong strike by Philadelphia transit workers is ending, just in time for Election Day.

Partial service will resume today, with full service on Tuesday, the transit authority said in a statement.

Bus, trolley and subway lines had been shut down since Tuesday. Early this morning, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union Local 234 said they'd managed to come to an tentative agreement.

"After negotiating through the night, bleary-eyed officials from Philadelphia's transit authority and its largest union announced a deal ending the strike," Jim Saksa of member station WHYY reports.

"The agreement came just hours before a judge was set to hear arguments to enjoin the strike during the election," Saksa says. "Officials here were worried that the brutal commutes caused by the strike might keep voters from the polls."

But the union president said that Election Day drama didn't play a part in negotiations, Saksa reports.

More than 4,700 workers are represented by the union that was on strike. The suspension of services had a major impact on the city, WHYY writes:

"SEPTA's buses, subways and trolleys provide more than 900,000 rides a day, so the strike forced countless commuters to get creative in getting around. Many jammed Regional Rails, whose workers didn't strike, while others hit the road, leading to gridlock that snarled highways and frayed tempers. Attendance sagged in city schools and colleges, because many students rely on public transit to get to class. SEPTA provides rides for nearly 60,000 public, private and charter school students.

"Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, though, saw big bumps in business."

"We know that the strike has caused a significant hardship for thousands of our riders," SEPTA board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said in the statement. "We thank riders for their patience under these extremely challenging circumstances."

As WHYY has reported, the strike began after negotiations broke down over issues including health care costs, pensions and worker rest.

The details of the tentative, five-year deal have not been released, but SEPTA said in a statement that it includes wage increases and pension improvements.

In a statement on Saturday, Willie Brown, the president of TWU Local 234, said the two sides had "made progress on both economic and non-economic issues" but were still negotiating on the pension fund.

The deal still needs to be approved by union members and the SEPTA board.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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