Why the storm stopped SEPTA in its tracks

SEPTA had prepared for Friday’s storm but not for how fast it intensified, consequently resulting in thousands of commuters being stranded for hours in their attempts to get home, an apologetic general manager Jeff Knueppel said Saturday.

“We prepared for yesterday’s weather but the storm intensified earlier than expected,” Knueppel said at a morning news briefing. “It is very upsetting that many of our customers were stranded. It all happened very quickly.”

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The biggest impact was on the Regional Rail lines, which were reduced to little or no service by late afternoon Friday due to winds that brought down dozens of trees across tracks. Even as some service was restored, delays continued Saturday.

The nor’easter that dumped as much as 9 inches of heavy wet snow on parts of the region also disrupted SEPTA’s bus routes. Twenty-five were either detoured or limited because of downed trees.

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Downed trees along SEPTA’s Fox Chase and Lansdale/Doylestown lines.

Two buses – including one on the Schuylkill Expressway – were hit by falling trees, Knueppel said. There were no serious injuries.

“Traffic was already slow but we were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Knueppel said about the Schuylkill incident.

Complicating service restoration were trees that continued to fall throughout the night. SEPTA employees were assisted by tree-removal companies to clear tracks, Knueppel said. SEPTA is coordinating rail line repairs with Amtrak along affected routes, including to the airport, he said.

As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines were the “best bet” to use for getting to the Flower Show, said Knueppel. City trolleys were running on a normal schedule; CCT Paratransit was running with delays, he said.

On SEPTA’s train lines, service to the airport is currently suspended. Shuttle buses are running every 20 minutes from the AT&T Station on the Broad Street Line. Full service on the rail line is expected Sunday.

Service along the Media/Elwyn line remained suspended Saturday but was expected to be restored by Sunday.

The Wilmington/Newark Line is currently suspended. Amtrak expects service on that line to be restored sometime on Saturday.

The West Trenton line had multiple trees down on the tracks. Service is expected to return by Monday morning.

Chestnut Hill West Line is suspended and expected to be up and running on Monday. Service to Chestnut Hill East is expected to return on Sunday.

Service on the Paoli-Thorndale line was restored by mid-morning Saturday.

Regional Rail lines running with delays are: Warminster, Lansdale/Doylestown, Manayunk/Norristown and Fox Chase. Service to Doylestown was expected to be restored by Saturday noon.

Norristown High Speed Line also continues to experience delays.

As for trolleys, Routes 101/102 along the Media and Sharon Hill lines – heavily impacted by fallen trees – were busing passengers. Some service between 69th Street and Drexel Hill Junction was expected to be restored on Sunday with the entire line expected to be fully operational by Monday.