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SEPTA Works Around The Clock to Combat Hurricane Sandy

Andrew Busch
SEPTA Press Officer

SEPTA crews worked around the clock to fix damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, which moved through the Philadelphia area on Monday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 30. These efforts helped restore operations soon after the storm, and get service back-to-normal for customers.

The carefully considered decision to suspend service was announced on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28, ahead of Sandy's arrival. As always, safety was the main factor.

"Suspending our service in the face of an unprecedented storm like Sandy was in the best interest of the safety of our customers and employees," said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey.

"It also helped us protect our vehicles and infrastructure, which put us in position to restore service as soon as possible after the storm."

The service suspension began at 12:30 a.m. Monday, as the storm began its descent on the region. At this point, crews were already taking steps to help protect the transit system from the storm, and those efforts continued after the service shutdown. A number of preventative measures were taken, such as clearing out drains to prevent flooding and moving vehicles to areas where they would be best protected from storm damage.

Still, as expected, Sandy wreaked havoc on the transit system - particularly in areas that are historically vulnerable to heavy winds and rains, such as Regional Rail lines. Winds blew trees down into catenary wires and onto tracks in multiple areas, with parts of the Lansdale/Doylestown, Chestnut Hill West and Warminster lines seeing some of the worst damage. There were similar conditions on parts of the Route 101 Media Trolley Line.

SEPTA crews, however, worked around the clock to inspect the system for damage, identify areas in need of repair, and act promptly to make the necessary fixes. These efforts played a major role in allowing SEPTA to begin restoring service at noon on Tuesday - only a few hours after the worst of the massive storm moved through the Philadelphia region.

By Tuesday afternoon, SEPTA was running subway service and operating most city and suburban bus routes. This was followed by Regional Rail for the Wednesday morning rush hour.

Before, during and after the storm, SEPTA coordinated efforts with local officials, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Nutter praised SEPTA's efforts at a post-storm press conference on Tuesday, when SEPTA announced service resumption plans.

"SEPTA has exceeded expectations," Nutter said of the Authority's efforts to get buses, trains and trolleys running in Sandy's aftermath. "SEPTA's operation is critical to this city and this region. It is the way we move people, goods and services around this region, and that's why we're such strong supporters of SEPTA and mass transit."

SEPTA kept customers informed with service updates posted online and announcements through local media throughout the storm.

Customer service representatives were also on the job, handling a record amount of calls from riders. SEPTA's Call Center extended its hours in anticipation of what ended up being thousands of inquiries. Representatives set a record on Tuesday, Oct. 30, when they successfully handled more than 18,100 calls - the most ever for a single day in SEPTA's history.

SEPTA Crews work to repair downed overhead wires on the Lansdale/Doylestown Regional Rail Line. The wires were brought down by a tree that fell during Hurricane Sandy.

A SEPTA wire train crew worker heads up to work on catenary on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line

SEPTA crews work to repair poles damaged on the Route 101 Media Trolley Line during Hurricane Sandy.

A crew member works on damaged overhead wires along the Lansdale/Doylestown Line.

The scene on a portion of the Lansdale/Doylestown Line before crews came out to make repairs.