For the second day straight Angel Caesar looked grimly forward to trekking home from work without the bus to get her there.
She usually takes the Route 33 bus between her home at 17th and Diamond streets to Plymouth Hall on 22nd, a senior housing development where she works as a home health aide. Tuesday morning, though, as the 31-year-old left work, the 33 bus remained suspended. She was going to have to navigate a mile of partially plowed sidewalks to get home.
"You've got to find the sidewalks that're shaved," Caesar said, referring to sidewalks being shoveled. "Basically you're playing in traffic."
She and several other people mentioned losing wages over the weekend or Monday because there were no buses to get them to work.
By midday Tuesday the Route 33 bus was back online, and by 4:30 p.m., the 71 and 89 buses were the only routes still suspended in Philadelphia. In the suburbs the 94, 95, 133 and 139 were still out.
But for much of Monday and in the morning Tuesday, people in this North Philadelphia neighborhood, and many other places in the city, hopped from bus to train to bus, walked, or just gave up on getting to work entirely as the city's bus network slowly got back on its feet.
The Route 33 runs from 23rd and Venango Streets to Penn's Landing, all day, all night. It moves, on average, 14,182 people on a weekday, and it had been out of commission since Saturday because of snow. Lines like the 33 are a particular challenge, SEPTA officials said, because of parts of the route that run through narrow city streets that become even more difficult to traverse where there are snow banks and plowed snow piles.
"You have it icy," said Andrew Busch, SEPTA spokesman, "but you have these additional physical things in the way."
SEPTA asked the city to prioritize certain key bus routes when deciding where to plow, agency officials said, but the plowing has been slow, and as a result so has the return of the city's bus routes.
In North Philadelphia, buses are a key link to work, medical care, family and friends. And the Route 33, which goes past Cecil B. Moore Avenue and the Philadelphia Art Museum into the heart of Center City, is essential.
"That's the most used bus in this area," said Jesse Morton, 57, who lives near the bus stop at 22nd and Erie.
Subways ran through the storm this weekend, and most Regional Rail trains and trolleys were at least limping along by Monday morning. But for those who depend on SEPTA's 122 bus routes, their wait to reconnect with the rest of the city lingered into Tuesday.
Some knew the bus system well enough that they were able to navigate alternative paths. One guy, who gort on the 56 bus before I could get his name, described his trip from the main branch of the Free Library to home in North Philly like this:
1. walk to 19th and Spring Garden.
2. Take the 43 bus to the Broad Street Line.
3. Take the Broad Street Line to Erie.
4. take the H bus from Erie to home.
"They make you do stuff you ain't did before," Kathy Ellerby joked as she too boarded a Route 56 bus.
Another man, who lives in Plymouth Hall, said the 33 is critical to visit, "the people I collaborate with."
Harvey Allen, 64, described his collaborators as his friends and his ex-wife. He uses a walker due to injuries to his feet and hadn't been able to visit since the storm came in Friday.
"I'm doing the humming and the bumming because she isn't going to go out of her way to me," Allen said.
On Monday, so many bus routes were suspended, many commuters had just one option. Morton, who uses the H bus to get to his security job at the Veterans Administration on Wissahickon Avenue, had to walk 30 blocks to work.