Altered transit schedules, delays, cancelled flights mark another winter morning

Mark Abrams
March 04, 2019 - 6:39 am
Wintry road in Buckingham, Bucks County.

Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio


UPDATED: 9:30 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As another blast of winter weather hits the Philadelphia region Monday, SEPTA ran a winter schedule on the regional rails, essentially a Saturday schedule, anticipating fewer commuters because of the snow forecast.

"On a normal weekday we would have about 65,000 regional rail riders, it's going to be roughly, for a Saturday schedule, we expect roughly half of that," SEPTA's Andrew Busch said.

However, it turned out the snow wasn't as much of an issue for those who decided to go to work. Hundreds were left on train platforms as full trains passed by, frustrating commuters who were late for work.

READ: Complete list of school closings  |  Fatal car crash kills two during snow storm

"We ran 17 extra trains above our 516, so we do that when we realize more people are coming than perhaps we planned on," SEPTA's Assistant General Manager of Operations Scott Sauer.

But it wasn't enough to meet the demand.

Sauer says SEPTA relied on the forecast and assumed it would mean fewer riders.

For the evening commute, he says, SEPTA will add more trains in hopes of picking up more passengers and getting them home, but he says riders should be prepared for crowded conditions.

There is no service on the Cynwyd line Monday.

Commuters can expect delays on some of the bus routes usually impacted by snow.

PATCO has returned to a normal operating schedule.

Amtrak reports service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg is temporarily suspended due to issues with the overhead wires west of the Elizabethtown, Pa., station.

Trains on the Northeast Corridor are not affected.

PennDOT has lifted all speed limit and commercial vehicle restrictions that were in place on several roadways in the north central Pennsylvania region.

READ: PennDOT secretary grilled about weather-related truck restrictions

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency at 3 p.m. Sunday, as well as a commercial vehicle restriction, which was lifted at 6 a.m. Monday. Speaking on KYW Newsradio later Monday morning, Murphy said they err on the side of safety "whether it's kids getting to or from school, or moms or dads getting to or from work."

"That allowed us to get, at its peak, about 2,500 pieces of equipment from the Department of Transportation out on the roads. So even though you all didn't have as much precipitation down by you as we had in the northern part of New Jersey, we had five to 10 inches up north, but even there the roads are largely clear and moving."

Citing the pushback PennDOT has gotten over increasing commercial vehicle restrictions with less snow on the ground, Murphy pointed to a major exception in his state, the New Jersey Turnpike. 

"That has been an exception," he said, "meaning that commercial vehicles are able to travel the pike without restriction. And that's not by accident. We want to make sure that commercial folks have an alternative that is viable for them, but again at the end of the day we are making decisions here to protect the safety and security of folks moving around."

At Philadelphia International Airport, 46 flights have been cancelled for Monday, according to the FlightAware website.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports delays averaging 15 minutes for departures and arrivals.

There have been problems in Boston all morning with delays of up to nearly four hours. The FAA grounded all flights taking off for Boston from anywhere in the country earlier this morning because of the snowy conditions in New England.

There are some power problems across the region due to electric lines being knocked down by trees and limbs. At this hour, PECO reports it has been having success clearing some of the outages. 

The majority of them — more than 1,100 — are in Bucks County.

PP&L reports scattered outages along Route 309 from Souderton on north to just outside Quakertown because of downed trees over power lines.