The strike by SEPTA workers that had paralyzed much of the region since last week ended this morning with a signing of an agreement by SEPTA officials and leaders of Transport Workers Union Local 234.

Buses, subways, and trolleys, idled since 3 a.m. Tuesday, should be running in time for this mornning's rush.

The end to the six-day walkout came in dramatic fashion, as union leaders joined SEPTA officials about 12:45 this morning at a news conference outside the Center City office of Gov. Rendell, who brokered the deal a day after he said he was giving up on efforts to settle the strike.

Attending the news conference were U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who has mediated SEPTA strikes in the past, Mayor Nutter and Local 234 president Willie Brown.

Brady said he never stopped talking to the union, which over the weekend backed off from an agreement reached late Friday.

"Negotiations never broke off. We never stopped talking," Brady said. "Some numbers had to be massaged. . . . Everybody cooperated."

Rendell, who had blamed union leaders for the collapse of Friday's tentative agreement, had only praise for Brown this morning. "Willie Brown did his job well for his members," he said. "That's the nature of the collective-bargaining process." Nutter said the most important thing was that "the system will be up and running" this morning.

Brown, who nodded in agreement, said a ratification vote would be held in a week and a half.

After the collapse of Friday's agreement, Rendell had threatened to withdraw nearly $7 million in state funds to pay for bonuses of $1,250 per worker. By signing the pact, the TWU, which represents 5,100 drivers, operators and mechanics, preserved the bonuses.

The five-year contract also calls for a 2.5 percent raise in the second year, and a 3 percent raise in each of the final three years. It increases workers' contributions to the pension fund from the current 2 percent to 3 percent, and increases the maximum pension to $30,000 a year from the current $27,000 a year.

The strike ended much as it started: in the middle of the night, with many in the city unaware of what would await them in the morning.

Earlier yesterday, officials on both sides had made it clear that no new talks had been scheduled and that this morning's commute would be much like last week's: with the nearly one million riders who use SEPTA's City and Frontier Division buses and trolleys and the Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford El every weekday having to find alternatives.

The strike's impact was minimal yesterday, with people taking advantage of balmy weather to walk to their destinations. Some churches set up car pools to get members to services.

Otherwise, the city seemed to take a breather from the angst. Not even a planned demonstration against Local 234 outside SEPTA headquarters on Market Street came off.

The strike appeared to have been settled late Friday, when Rendell and Brady announced a tentative agreement with the union.

On Saturday, however, Local 234 leadership rejected a contract offer that the governor and the mayor considered generous, given the current economic climate.

Rendell and Nutter were angered that the union and SEPTA had reached what the governor called a handshake agreement - and the union balked.

Yesterday afternoon, union spokesman Jamie Horwitz said: "The governor was correct. There was essentially a handshake agreement on some of the big issues related to salary and pension funding. "But the devil is in the details. And when the contract was sent over [Saturday], it included a couple things that were difficult for the union," Horwitz said.

Yesterday at Zion Baptist Church at Broad and Venango Streets in North Philadelphia, congregants streamed in for the 10:45 a.m. service.

Cars pulled up outside to drop off the elderly and infirm, and the no-parking zone along Broad Street was filling up.

Pastor Gus Roman said attendance at church activities all week, as well as at the earlier service yesterday morning, had been down, although he wasn't sure by how much.

But he was concerned about much more than attendance.

"It's the community health and welfare," he said.

"All during the week, you look at Erie and Broad, which is a hub for a lot of traffic . . . and you see the barrenness of it," he said. "It's frightening to see that. And the impact of that on business."

People couldn't get to hospitals or services they needed during the strike, he said.

"One of the things this is teaching us is that we're going to have to look at the impact of SEPTA on the church and on these institutions," he said.

He said he had concluded that the city's religious community should be involved.

"It's an eye-opener," he said. "It's in our mission statement that we are a service organization. But not until now did we give any thought to the role that the church should play" at the bargaining table.

"The way it is now, we're just bystanders, just looking," Roman said. "We need to mount an effort - churches - to do what we need to to, and that is to be a voice to the negotiations."

On Market Street, a bellhop at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel said pedestrian traffic was about the same as usual. Most hotel guests, he said, tend to take taxis instead of public transportation.

A few doors west, a protest against the union had been planned for 1 p.m. But by then, the only person other than SEPTA security officers and members of the media was Tili Ayala, who hadn't known about the demonstration and simply went on her own from Frankford, "as a Mormon activist."

She held a sign that read, "Talk is cheap. Get service back on street!!"