PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Sunday, SEPTA officials will temporarily shut down a Market-Frankford Line stop in Kensington citing maintenance repairs. But the president of the transit union says that’s not the real reason.
Those familiar with the Somerset Station along the Market-Frankford Line say it’s simply too dangerous and despite more police stationed in the area, they tell Eyewitness News that conditions are only getting worse and that employees have lost the subway station to crime, gangs and drugs.READ MORE: Fall Full-Capacity Concerts, Xfinity Live! Preparing To Reopen Has Philadelphia's Stadium District Buzzing With Energy
“I wouldn’t let my wife, my mother, anyone in my family, ride the system,” Philadelphia Transport Workers’ Union President Willie Brown.
That’s how Brown describes conditions at the Somerset stop of the Market-Frankford Line.
“The swipe boys they call them, where they are charging a fare for the people to get on, they’ve taken completely over the subway,” Brown said.
“Unfortunately, we are having a lot of challenges with our vulnerable population people experiencing homelessness, addicted to drugs,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said.
SEPTA’s GM announced the station will close indefinitely starting Sunday, March 21, citing maintenance and repairs.
“The elevators, due to urination, due to needles being jammed in certain parts of the elevators, have stopped working,” Richards said.
But the union says that’s not the real reason.READ MORE: Tolls Increasing Sunday On 8 Delaware River Crossings Connecting Pennsylvania, New Jersey
“From my understanding, they will do some work on it while it’s closed but the safety aspect is why they are actually closing it down,” Brown said
The union is calling on the SEPTA police chief to step up or step down.
“He has one job and that is to keep everybody safe,” said Brown.
“This is a very large problem, which is truly a societal issue that’s impacting SEPTA and the city in a lot of ways,” said Richards.
SEPTA says it will use the shutdown to develop a strategy for enhancing safety and security at the station, acknowledging concerns brought up by both customers and employees about drug-related activity and people blocking access to trains and stairs.
In a statement, Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez said, “I am deeply troubled… Many working people from the neighborhood use this station to get to work every day. It is vital that SEPTA work with public safety stakeholders to reopen the station as soon as possible.”
SEPTA has not given a timeline for when repairs will be completed.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate Race Raises Simmering Divisions Inside Party
CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.