PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s the largest salary increase for SEPTA transit police officers in more than 20 years. An agreement was reached after several weeks of negotiations.
As violent attacks continue to happen on SEPTA, the city hopes this “significant boost” will help recruit and retain officers for a department that’s understaffed at the moment.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Searching For Suspect Accused Of Fatally Shooting 77-Year-Old Man In Juniata
A SEPTA spokesperson says this increase shows SEPTA is committed to doing everything it can to make the system safe. Some riders question if this is the best way to do that.
A sweeping pay increase in SEPTA’s fight to improve safety as transit police officers brace for the largest salary boost in two decades.
“One of the biggest problems that we’ve had in terms of rider safety and the safety of the public is that police were leaving,” Philadelphia City Councilmember David Oh said.
According to SEPTA, the department is down 50 transit officers. It’s been difficult to recruit people to join.
Oh said the problem wasn’t the position but the pay. He threatened to withhold $10 million from the $100 million City Council gives SEPTA in order for changes to be made.
“With so much gun violence going on, I think everybody will feel better knowing that our public transportation system is being safeguarded and patrolled,” Oh said.READ MORE: Montgomery County Officer Grazed By Bullet During Philly’s 4th Of July Fireworks Feels ‘Lucky’ To Walk Away From Incident
This move would raise post-graduation salaries 11%, from $49,000 to $62,000. It’s a move SEPTA hopes will attract new employees.
“It can deter people but it should help. As a matter of fact, I hope it will help,” Lynn Watson said.
The increase comes days after two more violent attacks on a SEPTA worker and a rider.
One involved a man punching a SEPTA maintenance worker and the other is wanted for stabbing a teen after a fight on a train spilled onto the platform.
For some, more officers are not enough.
“Maybe a little bit safer, but I mean I wish that the whole city changes to make things better and not just police officers,” one rider said.
The increase is within SEPTA’s budget so riders should not expect fairs to go up. The new salaries are expected to be in place by June 19.MORE NEWS: PHL Airport Receiving $24 Million In Federal Funding For Terminal Improvements
CBS3’s Jan Carabeo contributed to this report.