With hardly any customers aboard its trains, SEPTA announced further cuts to Regional Rail service Thursday, with PATCO following suit.
An “essential service schedule” for SEPTA begins Sunday. Changes include service every two hours on most lines, while Airport Line trains will run every hour. The Cynwyd Line will operate only from Monday through Friday.
A dramatic 94% ridership drop along Regional Rail prompted SEPTA to further modify schedules, which can be found on SEPTA’s website.
Its transit system has also seen plummeting figures, with ridership down more than 70% this week. Service on buses, trolleys, and subways will continue to run on reduced Saturday schedules.
SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards said service should be reserved for essential employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are pleading with our customers — if you don’t have to ride, please don’t," Richards said in a statement.
SEPTA also has boosted cleaning efforts, cut executive pay, eliminated overtime, and instituted a hiring freeze to stifle the blow from revenue losses.
PATCO announced changes to “meet the demands of current ridership.” Beginning Saturday, PATCO’s Ashland, Westmont, City Hall, and 12/13th and Locust stations will temporarily close. Adjustments will also be made to service, including trains running every 20 minutes from 5 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. during weekdays.
This week, PATCO ridership fell about 89% from year-to-date weekday averages. John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority, which runs PATCO, said last week he believed ridership may have “bottomed out."
To stem the spread of the coronavirus, the DRPA has swapped cash collection for all-electronic tolling on the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Commodore Barry bridges.
The transportation industry has been heavily hit as customers across the country stay home, forcing agencies to turn to the federal government for aid. A $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package awaiting a vote in the House included $25 billion for public transit.