By Alecia Reid


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Further changes for SEPTA went into effect on Wednesday. They say it’s part of their effort to provide safe travel amid the COVID-19 crisis.

TWU Local 234 has been pushing for changes to protect SEPTA employees as they continue to provide services for the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The union and SEPTA met in a 45-minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Both sides say it was extremely productive and that service will continue operating with new restrictions that went into effect earlier today.

SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards walked into the Transport Workers Union headquarters amid accusations from union leaders that the agency isn’t taking employee safety seriously.

“This is about how we can come together keeping everyone safe and doing our part,” Richards said.

Union leaders gave SEPTA until Thursday to meet their demands for safer working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sanitizer, gloves for people, some bleach, cleaning equipment. Clean these vehicles. We have a responsibility to our members but also to the riding public,” Local 234 President Willie Brown said.

SEPTA implemented major changes for transit that went into effect this morning. There is a limit of 20 passengers per bus and 25 per trolley.

To further protect drivers and passengers alike, boarding is now through the backdoor. With backdoor boarding, onboard fare collection has been suspended. Front door boarding will continue only for people with disabilities.

Since the pandemic hit, all buses were equipped with glass shields to protect drivers. SEPTA says trolleys are also being modified and are expected to be completed by the weekend.

The union has been concerned about the number of people still taking public transportation. With that, SEPTA is reminding the public that current services are meant to transport only essential workers to and from work, and those needing access to hospitals, pharmacies or grocery stores.

In a statement, SEPTA says the agency has dramatically augmented the cleaning of stations, vehicles and work areas, even using third-party industrial cleaners.

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SEPTA’s general manager says today’s meeting was about ensuring service continues to run smoothly and that employees are getting the safety equipment they need.