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EXCLUSIVE: 2 SEPTA Riders End Up On Tracks Wednesday

One Person Walks Off Platform, Another Retrieves A Piece Of Fruit

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An Eyewitness News Exclusive — two close calls are shining a spotlight on an issue SEPTA has been dealing with for years.

Surveillance cameras captured two separate incidents of people on the train tracks Wednesday, one on the Market-Frankford Line and the other on the Broad Street Line.

Midday Wednesday on the platform at 34th Street on the Market-Frankford Line a SEPTA rider stumbled off the edge.

This time of the day SEPTA trains arrive every six to eight minutes, approaching at 40 miles an hour.

In the surveillance video, you see him scramble up, lifting himself with the help of a covered electrified rail. What he doesn’t know is how close he is to being electrocuted.

For SEPTA, it is a case study in what not to do.

“We see him walking and looking and mostly looking at his devices, his electronic devices, his wristwatch maybe, everything except where he was going and what he was doing,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s Director of Systems Safety said.

On any given afternoon the trains don’t appear to be threatening. Riders wait, connected to their world on their cell phones. Unless you are aware, the combination can ratchet up the danger.

“That device impairs us and whether we’re driving or walking or even talking to one another, the mere presence of that electronic device, or whatever it is that we’re paying attention to, is distracting enough,” Sauer said.

Less than four hours later on the Broad Street Line an orange was the distraction, rolling out of a rider’s lunch bag, off the platform, on to the tracks. The rider went to recover it, endangering himself. Fortunately he was not injured either.

Meanwhile at 34th Street, SEPTA officials tell CBS 3 the alert train operator saved a life today.

“Had it not been for the operator taking the initiative to stop the train, if the train had just kept coming, it would have been a matter of seconds before the train arrived where that gentlemen fell,” Sauer said.

Safety is a top priority for SEPTA. SEPTA officials tell CBS 3 they have planned a full day of safety instruction for riders on May 21st. They want to keep public transit lines safe for the riding public.