The SEPTA strike is now on its sixth day. Transportation Workers Union Local 234 members walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, bringing Philadelphia's subways, trolleys and buses to a halt. Here are the latest updates on the strike.
After a 2 ½-hour hearing, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Linda Carpenter denied SEPTA's request to force striking workers back on the job immediately.
"There's enough evidence that an injunction might be appropriate. There's not enough evidence that an injunction right now is necessary," Carpenter said.
If the strike is not resolved before Monday morning, she will reconsider the injunction before Election Day.
Around 5:45 p.m., SEPTA's Trenton line was suspended for inbound service due to Amtrak police activity near Holmesburg Station. Other lines were reporting delays of about 10 to 25 minutes Friday afternoon -- far less than the 30 minutes to an hour reported in the first days of the strike.
By 7 p.m., the rush had died down in Center City.
Street traffic for Friday afternoon's rush-hour out of Philadelphia afternoon was heavy, Gene Blaum, a PennDOT spokesman said.
About 4:45 p.m., Interstate-76 westbound was "very heavy leaving the city," he said. A PennDOT highway camera on I-76 near the City Avenue exit showed traffic westbound slow-going or at a standstill at about that time.
Interstate 95 north has also been heavy. And the U.S. 1 north extension from I-76 to Ninth Street in the city has been heavier than normal since the strike started, Blaum said.
Health reporters Rita Giordano and Sam Wood spoke to medical providers around town said Friday evening who said they've seen the impact of the SEPTA strike, with some patients unable to get to their regular appointments and others needing emergency assistance. But thanks in part to the fact that hospitals are running shuttles, most people seem to be getting the help they need.
As more commuters have taken to bicycles, Jefferson Urgent Care has had an uptick in business, especially from novice cyclists. "They're getting bumped by cars,'' said nursing manager Philippa Ratcliffe.
More routine problems like allergy and flu symptoms are also boosting business at the urgent care, with offices near Washington Square and Rittenhouse Square. "I would say the volume has definitely increased," this week, she said. "I think there is a correlation with the SEPTA strike. People are downtown longer. People are coming to us because they're in the city, and we're here."
Convenience also has been good for business at Temple ReadyCare - Port Richmond, said office manager Lisa Marquez. "We've been pretty busy the last couple days,'' with patients complaining about traffic. "Some people have missed their appointments" at their regular doctors. "They've been told to come here," Marquez said.
At Temple University Hospital System, "there's been a slightly lower than normal patient volume in some office locations," said spokesman Jeremy Walter. "But nothing dramatic.''
Dean Bollendorf, vice president of Healthfleet Ambulance, pointed out that hospitals are running their own shuttle services to help patients and employees to get around.
"We operate a shuttle program for Einstein Health Care System," he said. "We have noticed a slight uptick in calls for service, but not a terribly big one. Our calls are up about 5 percent. Most of the folks we transport are dependent on paratransit and ambulance services. They're people who generally wouldn't access SEPTA anyway."
While SEPTA and the union have each issued a statement blasting the other for the prolonged strike, negotiations remain underway. The talks resumed Thursday evening and continued late into the night, but no agreement was reached or appears imminent. Talks are expected to resume at 6 p.m.
The negotiations have been following a nocturnal rhythm.
Pensions are the main issue holding up the negotiations. The union wants improvements to the plan (its biggest complaint is that workers' pensions are capped but SEPTA managers' are not), which experts say is less generous than many other public workers' pensions. SEPTA's offers have reportedly included removing that cap.
Major delays have been occuring on roads in the region as more people opt to drive during the strike.
You can check traffic conditions at 511pa.com. PennDot's maps showed back-ups on most major highways, and drivers reported slow-moving traffic in the city.
The city's director of the Office of Emergency Management also had some advice for motorists regarding bicycles.
Regional Rail is operating during the strike. Trains are frequently running late or are overcrowded due to heavy passenger volume during the strike. Riders on all lines should expect delays.
WALKING AND BIKING
It's a perfect fall day for a walk or ride: Sunny skies with a high near 60 degrees.
HOW TO GET AROUND