PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Starting Sunday, SEPTA will shut down the Somerset Station in Kensington. They cite maintenance repairs in what we’re told is a temporary halt, but the transit union insists that’s not the real reason.
The transit union says safety is a major concern at the SEPTA station. The decision to close it will impact hundreds of riders.READ MORE: Investigation Underway After Rabid Dog Imported From Middle East Ends Up In Chester County
SEPTA says closing any station is the last resort. They say they considered all factors before deciding the Somerset Station had to temporarily close, but the union feels blindsided.
Unsafe conditions, including needles, human waste, and trash have wreaked havoc on the Somerset Station in Kensington.
“The elevators, due to urination, due to needles jammed in certain parts of the elevators, have stopped working,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said.
In addition, drug activity and people blocking access to the station are of concern to customers and employees.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association Launches Vaccination Initiative Targeting Hospitality Workers
“Unfortunately, we’re having a lot of challenges with our vulnerable population, people experiencing homelessness, addicted to drugs,” Richards said.
Starting Sunday, Richards says the station will temporarily close for construction, maintenance, and repairs. But the head of Philadelphia’s Transport Workers Union says they found out about this a week ago and believes it is a poorly thought out plan.
“When they plan things, they don’t plan them two weeks in advance,” TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown said. “They plan this thing months and months ago. So basically, it’s a situation where you’re working in a vacuum.”
While there’s no timeline on how long the station will be closed, Brown is concerned about the riding public’s access to transportation.
“You could have put maybe two buses on each side to take them to and from, to shuttle back between the stations instead of just abandoning the neighborhood,” Brown said.MORE NEWS: Police: 17-Year-Old Shot In Head, Killed In Southwest Philadelphia
In response to the temporary closure, residents in the area are planning to protest on Tuesday night.