SEPTA’s Loco-motion

Medically disqualified transit workers get a free ride on taxpayers.

By Joel Hoffmann
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 55 | Posted Oct. 20, 2009

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If transit workers are going to get a free ride, they should at least show up.

Riddle me this: When is a cashier not a cashier?

If you answered: “When the cashier is a union-protected SEPTA employee who isn’t healthy enough to perform the job for which s/he was hired, and so SEPTA has assigned that cashier to a booth along one of the city’s subway lines,” then please, applaud yourself.

Under a collective-bargaining agreement forged with the Transport Workers Union 20 years ago in March 1989, SEPTA is required to find another position for bus and train operators who’ve been injured on the job and “medically disqualified” by the medical office, according to Rich Burnfield, SEPTA’s chief financial officer.

“Rather than have that individual on workers’ compensation, we put them in a job without the same physical requirements,” says Burnfield.

This is no doubt a better arrangement for SEPTA than putting workers on disability and watching the company’s insurance premiums spike. No one wants to see a rash of layoffs when nearly 10 percent of the population is unemployed and the recession has no end in sight. But the contract lacks accountability and that should concern taxpayers, many of whom are struggling to balance their own expenses.

“There is no formal job description for the position,” according to C. Neil Petersen, SEPTA’s open records officer, and “job performance is not evaluated in the context of specific standards per se or an annual merit review.”

According to a right-to-know request, SEPTA does not fill cashier positions with outside applicants. All 346 of the full-time cashiers that staff glass booths along the Broad Street and Market-Frankford subway lines come from the medically disqualified pool. Since they were injured while performing their original jobs, no one should expect them to be tackling purse-snatchers. But the contract seems to permit cashiers to sit idly for hours, requiring little of them other than to show up. What’s more troubling is that SEPTA has not developed a mechanism to make sure the cashiers are earning their keep.

“It’s definitely unusual for an organization of this size to not have a job description for this,” says Zack Stalberg, director of the Committee of Seventy, a nonprofit government watchdog. “At the very least they should be in productive jobs, and one way to assure that is to have a job description.”


Nonetheless, Burnfield says cashiers are paid $55,000 per year on average (or 1.5 times the city’s median household income, according to a 2007 U.S. Census Bureau survey). According to SEPTA’s December 2008 wage manual, cashiers are supposed to make between $29,684 and $49,473, depending on their years of service. But the contract with TWU Local 234 allows cashiers to carry with them wage rates from their days as bus and train operators and guarantees cashiers a yearly raise regardless of job performance. Do the math and you’ll find that SEPTA is spending $19 million per year to keep them on board. Much of that comes from taxpayer money—federal, state and local government subsidies made up about half of SEPTA’s operating expenses in fiscal year 2008—but it doesn’t seem that taxpayers are getting much of a return on the expenditure. Still, Burnfield doesn’t think SEPTA cashiers are getting a free ride from taxpayers. He admits the term cashier is outdated—none of them can give change (a security measure) and passengers can purchase tokens at only 21 of 50 subway locations—but Burnfield believes the cashiers will continue to have “an important role” at SEPTA.


“Just as fare payment has changed and evolved over the years, the role of cashiers has changed and evolved over the years,” Burnfield says. 


Cashiers are responsible for helping senior citizens and disabled passengers navigate the subway system, he says, and they “play a very important role to deter fare evasion.” They also help out-of-town passengers find 
their way around the city, he says. This rationale might make sense if SEPTA didn’t have 256 transit 
police patrolling the subway system (12 more will hit the pavement after graduating from the next officer-training class). It might make sense if SEPTA weren’t installing security cameras throughout its public-transportation system, giving the authority the ability to monitor the whole system from a central location. It might make sense if street and subway maps weren’t so widely available.


Samuel Estreicher, director of the Center for Employment and Labor Law at New York University, acknowledges the nonsense.


“City government is not very efficient, and they should be insisting that everyone on the payroll is doing something useful,” says Estreicher, who wrote his master’s thesis at Cornell University on New York’s Transport Workers Union. Although Estreicher has never studied TWU 234 directly, he has found in his research that the kind of contract SEPTA made with TWU 234 is common. When asked what SEPTA gets out of the deal, Estreicher suggests the benefits might not come until cashiers start retiring in droves, putting SEPTA in a better position to leave the jobs vacant.


But it doesn’t look like those jobs are going anywhere. 


Willie Brown, president of TWU 234, is hardly a SEPTA cheerleader, but he agrees with Burnfield that the cashiers should stay on the payroll.


“Token machines can’t take care of the disabled or the elderly,” he says. “Token machines can’t tell you if there’s a fire in the station or if someone’s getting robbed.”


Brown believes the cashiers are critical to passenger safety because they “provide extra eyes and ears” and because SEPTA doesn’t have “nearly enough cops to cover the subway system.”


But, Brown confesses, “We leave a lot to be desired in terms of customer service.” He blames SEPTA work regulations for that—especially a regulation that encourages bus drivers to keep conversation with oncoming passengers to a minimum—but many passengers agree that SEPTA struggles with customer service.


“My experience with the subway is never usually a pleasant one,” says Tara Cattell, a Camden County College student and South Jersey resident who uses SEPTA services three days a week to get to fundraising jobs for the American Civil Liberties Union. 


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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 55 of 55
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1. Anonymous said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 08:53AM

“seems to me a white writer making less than 30 k a year is jealous that an uneducated (probably minority) cashier is making a hell of a lot more. maybe you should have majored in accounting”

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2. hotcrossedout said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 09:39AM

“SEPTA is embarrassing. It baffles me that a MetroCard-type system (like most other metropolitan cities on the planet have) is that far out of reach or impossible to implement. I also agree with the writer. Can't count how many time I have seen those cardboard signs in the token booth window. You mean to tell me I have $35 in my wallet and there is no way for me to buy a single ride on your service? GTFO.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 10:36AM

“Poster #1, shouldn't you be out dog-fighting or stealing cars?”

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4. Anonymous said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 10:42AM

““Token machines can’t tell you if there’s a fire in the station or if someone’s getting robbed.”
Brown believes the cashiers are critical to passenger safety because they “provide extra eyes and ears” and because SEPTA doesn’t have “nearly enough cops to cover the subway system.”
 Really? You're going with that excuse? How many people have been assaulted in the past two years on the subway system? Yeah, those cashiers are really doing a lot to keep the riders safe. Please.

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5. Anonymous said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 11:13AM

““Just as fare payment has changed and evolved over the years, the roll of cashiers has changed and evolved over the years,” Burnfield says. 


That should be "role" and not "roll". Please proofread.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Oct 21, 2009 at 04:07PM

“Seems to me that Poster #1 is probably the President of TWU234. It's obvious when you stated his race. I've been a member of the UAW for 30 years and know alot about the " behind the scenes activity". Maybe it's time for "you" to look in the mirror and stop pointing at the kid who's trying to make a living on an honest basis to find his way in the world. I think he's a great writer - it's a shame that the truth hurts. I also was a Union official for 9 years - so i know the drill on old language. Look in the mirror if you need to find a solution to your problems. Yours truly - the "white kids" Father.”

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7. Subway Frequenter said... on Oct 22, 2009 at 09:32AM

“As much as I take pride in my city, the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority leaves me baffled. Have we honestly not taken any major strides to improve this by now? And now reading this story, which was very well-done, it sort of disappoints me even more to discover that the behind the scenes operations appear to be in even more disarray than most of the Subway stops I get off at...”

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8. Hasn't taken Septa in 15 years said... on Oct 22, 2009 at 12:29PM

“Septa is over-priced, behind the curve as far as other cities like NYC, London, when it comes to customer service, security and updating services. They claim to have all these cops and cameras, but they have done little to prevent violent crimes in the past few years, as they have spiked! When is a cashier not a cashier?? When they work for Septa!”

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9. Poster #1 said... on Oct 22, 2009 at 03:26PM

“No. I'm not union. I'm white myself. I'm just tired of educated white kids coming into this city like they own it and fucking shit up. Go back to Kansas!”

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10. Anonymous said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 01:50PM

“Poster #1 - you are a moron. I was born and raised in Philly and I take SEPTA all the time and the only thing that has changed in my 32 years is the price. While NYC, Boston, and DC Metro have improved we are a disgrace and so are you.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 07:15PM

“It's amazing how people can point fingers at others without seeing what it's like on the other side of the fence. I've been a Septa Cashier for 19 years and I'm here to tell you it's no "walk in the park". The public is quick to hold us accountable for the policy of Septa like we woke up one morning and decided to stop making change or single track a train. Do ya'll, as readers, seriously think crime wouldn't increase without us in the booth? As to customer service, yes, there is some surly Cashiers but that percentage is low. To put all Cashiers in the same box it contemptible at the very least. I successfully help people every day and to be judged because the writer doesn't like Septa's policy is wrong. As to the sign, we are allotted 2 breaks a day (at Septa's convenience); one a 30 minute lunch and a 5 minute break. If more is needed we have to seek permission from our managers, hence the sign. 1 of 2”

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12. Anonymous said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 07:34PM

“2 of 2-.I would like to challenge all who read this article to stop and observe for one week. Listen to the questions and requests that passengers make of any and all Septa employees and honestly evaluate the response. In my 19 years of service most of the "problems" I have are because people don't like the response I give. When they discover they have walked down on the wrong side, it's my fault. When they leave their transpass at home, it's my responsibility. When they know the name but not the address of the building they seek, I'm and idiot for not being able to help them. I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement, all I'm asking is for people to honestly look and listen and then judge. To point fingers as this bitter writer did is unjustifiable. We as Septa employees help hundreds if not thousands everyday to say anything else is irresponsible reporting. Direct your ire toward Septa for it's policies not to the hard working people trying to make a living for their families.”

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13. Anonymous said... on Oct 23, 2009 at 10:13PM

“I am a 30 year Septa employee as a cashier. If you look at where there is a token machine you will notice that they are only in the stations where the suburbanites board the trains. If you want to make SEPTA better - tell them about it. They are the ones discriminating against the less fortunate riders. They have the token machines and the change machines in warehouses but wont install them in the poorer areas of the city. We are the people in the forefront of the public. We are the ones being cursed at and called names because we are doing our jobs and following Septa's policies. Like the earlier post- watch and listen to what we are asked. What people demand we do for them. I was a skilled laborer and was injured on the job and this is the job they said I have to do. I didnt apply for this job. I was given no training. I was told to sit in this glass box for 8 hours a day and follow their rules.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 01:40AM

“To hotcrossedout (comment #2): You're absolutely correct. SEPTA should have had the SmartCard system long ago. The root of the problem is (drum roll, please) the Smart Passenger plan has hit a brick wall. As a long-time cashier, I can't believe that SEPTA thinks we can be replaced by... NO ONE? I have (politely) dealt with people who should own no shoes because they're too stupid to be allowed to leave the house. Here's a sampling: "That's the train, isn't it?" "Do I have to go over there to be on the other side?" "Do I put the coins where it says, "Insert coins here?"" Get the picture? I hope SEPTA doesn't replace me until I collect enough stupid questions to write my book. Oh, by the way, never, NEVER sit on those Blue Line seats. I see what sits on them late at night.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 02:31AM

“Ok, let's not all be morons. I am a cashier for this company. Everyone working in those booths has some type of illness, ailment, or disability. Most are on some type of meds as well. Some of these meds or just general, "I've been sitting in the booth for 8 hrs" can cause us to need to leave the booth. When we need to use the BATHROOM, we place a sign in the window telling people where and how to enter the system without us, using a passgate for FREE. It's called common sense. Noone is supposed to leave the booth without SEPTA's knowledge. The procedure is: called the main office, let them know that you are leaving the booth either to stretch your legs or to go to the bathroom, place a sign in the window so passengers don't wait unknowingly and miss their train. EVERY person who works 8 hours or more is entitled by law to two 15 minute breaks and/or bathroom breaks as needed, including us. "Don't need us?" I cannot count how many people don't even know how to use tokens, lol”

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16. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 02:52AM

“#16 cont'd: And thank you #12,13, 14, and 15....I concur. # 15 please add to your list of stupid questions: "Where exactly does the train stop?", "How do I get to the other side?", and "Did I just miss the train?" to which the answers are: "Here", "Go over there", and "Yes, every 12 minutes since 5am, you have missed a train."

And the next time you think that you don't need your cashier, take a look around at who exactly is in the station with you. Now, imagine yourself, a decent law-abiding citizen, without that cashier in that same station with all the thugs, the deliquent teens, the psychotics, and the rapists that we hear about on the news. Imagine that you've passed out in the station and need assistance. If you don't see one of those "256" SEPTA police officers on the platform, you'd better be glad that there is a cashier who can call 911 to help you out.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 03:00AM

“"But the contract with TWU Local 234 allows cashiers to carry with them wage rates from their days as bus and train operators..." FALSE!!! I took a 10% wage cut when I went from driving to cashiering. The author should check his "facts".”

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18. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 03:08AM

“"none of them can give change (a security measure) and passengers can purchase tokens at only 21 of 50 subway locations." FALSE!!! ANY of those 21 cashiers who sell tokens can give change. Check your "facts".”

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19. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 03:13AM

“To #18: Apparently, the writer chose to include only the information that he wanted to include. But I have a feeling that this story was more so from upper management than a "concerned passenger". SEPTA has been trying for years to do away with this disability position, even though it is a violation of ADA laws. What is so different from our job and toll booth operators? They collect fares, we collect fares also. Cashiers don't choose this job, we are told by SEPTA medical if we are "no longer qualified to do the job for which we are hired due to medical issues".”

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20. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 03:22AM

“"A free ride on taxpayers"? Are they kidding? And the taxes that I pay out of my paycheck are what? Chopped Liver? Oh, I'm sorry, my taxes pay for welfare, section 8, medicare, free rides for all the elderly, free rides for ALL the schoolchildren in the city, etc., etc.”

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21. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 03:37AM

“Riddle me this When is an article Disqualified When it misleads the Readers. I been a cashiers for 2 years . About cashiers non Job Description. The Overview of Cashiers Function (Job Description) : 1.Accounts for fare collected and change funds allotted where permits
2.Furnishing information regarding other modes of Septa service
3.Prepares reports on accidents and incidents, securing witnesses.
4.Initiate stoppage of trans in an emergency situation.
5.Close stations if emergency warrants.
6.Train other cashiers on line training.
7.Service Guarantee Claim form and fare card.
8. Use Envelope control when equipment malfunctions.
9. Issue rebate cards onover deposits.
10.Report token machine incidents
11 Free wheel turnstiles if children, senior citizen and disables get jamed
12 Colleting discount fares during off-peak hours.
13 Deterrent of fare evasion, passbacks,blacklist passes.
15 In this post 9-11 world arbitrating emergency bomb threats procedures

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22. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 10:13AM

“#6: Race really doesn't matter and isn't an issue at all because we have cashiers of many ethnic background working both lines in the city. So because you don't agree with it, it's a "dishonest living"? If the writer had done his homework, he would have all facts and not just opinion.”

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23. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 04:25PM

“At least this stirs up some debate and a highlights the need for reform. I hope the heads of SEPTA are reading this.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Oct 24, 2009 at 10:48PM

“Riddle me this : When dose #24 sound like the article writ'er?
If you said : When their one of the same person: You're Right.
The only thing that's up for debate, and reform is the credibility
of your publicly unknown facts, which lacks accountability.
By the way, did you fail all your online true and false journalist
course's. Well here's a chance for a one question make up exam
True or False "contract lacks accountability [False] section 1501 Effect of
Legislation " It is understood that this Agreement is subject to all applicable
laws now or hereinafter,and to the lawful regulations, ruling and orders of regulatory commissions or agencies having jurisdiction. If any article or section of this Agreement is in contravention of the laws or regulations of the
U/S or the P/A article or section shall be superseded by the appropriate provision of such law or regulations but all other articles and sections of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect. (Yes Accountability).”

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25. Deep said... on Oct 25, 2009 at 02:40PM

“SEPTA bashing is as much of a Philly pastime as watching the Flyers choke in the playoffs ever year. And there is some fair legitimacy to that. I feel more weekend service is just asking too much from SEPTA. I feel SEPTA should hire consultants from NYC and Chicago.

However SEPTA is a lot better than we give it credit for. It really does get you from point A to point B. I appreciate the fact that I can live without a car, which would cost me exponentially more than the $20.75 I spend a week on a Transpass. The Plan Your Trip function on the SEPTA website is more accurate than most people would think. If you don't think SEPTA is something to be appreciated then talk to someone from the Mid-West. Talk to people in Houston, where people have a habit of crashing into the light rail trains.

I love this city and its people. However, every time I hear a Philadelphian complain, I have ask myself: is it really that bad. We have issues, but we're not as bad as some cities in this country.”

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26. Anonymous said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 12:10AM

“To #24: When SEPTA installs toilets in the booths, then you won't have to worry about accountability or signage. Until then, noone's going to wet themselves to please a jerk with a camera. Do you ask permission every time you go to the bathroom? Probably not, but we actually do. So when someone isn't in their booth, best believe the company makes it their business to know. Being out of your booth on company time without company knowledge can get a worker written up. It's called stealing time, and SEPTA does not take it lightly. Yeah, I hope the heads at SEPTA are reading it too.”

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27. Anonymous said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 11:40AM

“The writer of this article is nothing but a snide litte putz who is only looking to take cheap shots.”

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28. David G said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 01:02PM

“A classic no win situation all around (including in the awful back and forth in the comments). One serious error: when you do the math on how much it takes to keep the cashiers "on the books," you most certainly do _not_ get $19 million. I'm assuming that calculation was based on the average salary times the number of cashiers, which seriously underreports the cost, since it's ignoring benefits and other overhead. My guesstimate is that the cost is much closer to $24 million.”

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29. Smetzger said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 01:29PM

“I must disagree with the assertion that out-of-towners would have no problem navigating the transit system due to the availability of maps and transit police. SEPTA patrons can tell you that these two resources often seem to be in short supply, and it is easy to get confused by some of the more esoteric elements of our transit network. I believe that exceptional cashiers truly improve a rider's experience in any city, but frequent SEPTA riders can also tell you that our cashiers' performance is usually less than stellar. I'm surprised - but not shocked - that the cashiers come solely from the injured-employee pool; we really need to have properly trained employees working at all subway stops, and they should be held accountable for their performance in a formal way.”

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30. Anonymous said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 01:42PM

“(Sorry, reevaluated my opinion [lol] and am changing one item in my comment. SEPTA does frequently give me headaches, but when I thought about it more, I realized that the cashiers usually are quite helpful if you need assistance, and sometimes they are unfairly berated by patrons.):

I believe that exceptional cashiers truly improve a rider's experience in any city, and in my experience, SEPTA cashiers usually can help you with most any transit query.”

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31. Pencil said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 02:45PM

“50K/per year. Really?

Cashiers at Walmart receive hostility, anti-theft responsibilities and a busy work environment. They're not making 50k/year and they would never be able to make cardboard signs to stick at their cash register.

The average salary of social workers is less than 50k/yr and their responsibilities not only include "dealing" with difficult people and crisis, they're also responsible for helping to solve the social and mental health problems of individuals. Other emergency response workers, such as low level EMTs, make less than 50k/year and they're saving lives.

I respect the history of unions and what they've done for labor in this country. I believe cashiers have a right to a job and good salary. But 50k/yr is unfair.”

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32. Jenn said... on Oct 26, 2009 at 04:18PM

“All I needed was a brain to plan my first trip to Philly to visit Temple. I got from the airport to Suburban, from the BSL City Hall station to Cecil B., and back to the airport to catch my flight with absolutely no problems thanks to the SEPTA website, asking cashiers when I had a question, and a big heap of COMMON SENSE. I agree wholeheartedly with #25, Deep. Some Philadelphians just don't know what to do when they don't have something to bitch about; meanwhile, I go everywhere in minutes thanks to the trains, buses, and trolleys. It's not perfect but it sure as hell is comprehensive. More power to the union, I hope you strike and show these dummies what they've got.”

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33. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 08:08AM

“Why do web sites allow comments? Every discussion on every topic becomes a racial hate fest. This city blows, SEPTA sucks, can't wait to retire and get the fuck out of here.”

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34. Deep said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:49AM

“I really hope SEPTA doesn't strike, especially during the World Series. A strike during the World Series will not be beneficial to either the union or SEPTA management. Image is everything and SEPTA needs to do everything present a better image, especially in Harrisburg, where suburban and rural legislators are doing everything in their power to kill Philadelphia and anything linked to Philadelphia.

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35. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:09AM

“I work for the government we have the same bull shit, right now a person in my office was selected for a GS 13 (salary about $91,000.00) has done nothing. As soon as he got the job he apply for Management Training, was late completing the course and didn’t want a position outside our office, knowing that the only way was to take a job outside of our office, 9 months wasted. Now he is sick and has been out of the office since June, and what to go out on Disability Retirement

I am sick of this shit and can't wait to retire, so I don’t have to put with SEPTA and asshole like this”

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36. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:39PM

“To #31: $50,000. Really? Yes, really. This is America, the land of opportunity. If that Walmart cashier or the social worker choose to stay in low paying jobs, that's their choice. They can go to http://www.septa.org and apply for any open position at SEPTA and make a decent salary. They can also work odd hours, split shifts, and every federal and state holiday. They can miss Thanksgiving with their families and Christmas with their kids. SEPTA employees accept these inconveniences and are compensated because of them.”

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37. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:45PM

“#33 (and 34) There are almost 40 comments regarding this article and approximately 5 refer to race - 2 of which are from you. I quote: “Why do web sites allow comments? Every discussion on every topic becomes a racial hate fest. This city blows, SEPTA sucks, can't wait to retire and get the fuck out of here.”. I fail to see the "racial hate fest". Yes, on occasion, SEPTA does suck and when you retire and get the "f" out maybe the city will blow a little less.”

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38. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 06:22PM

“Yes, $50K and sometimes more than that. The top man over at Comly district makes (drum roll, please...........) just under $100k as a bus driver. When I drove a bus, I was so surprised to see that he made so much more in overtime than at the district that I came from located in the poorer areas of the city. I was also surprised to know that this is the only city transit district that forces it's workers to work overtime unless they actually request to receive their days off. Also noted, these workers actually do much less work for more money, which is why that district was dubbed "The Country Club". I went back to my own district because I didn't want to lose 5 years of seniority. But like #36 said, it was MY choice to go back and therefore lose the perks of making extra money at that location. It is not the fault of the cashiers that they make the money that they do. They knew the rules and benefits of their job when they got hired, just like everyone else does.”

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39. Deep said... on Oct 27, 2009 at 06:59PM

“For those of you think this city blows, it could be worse. You could live in King of Prussia.”

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40. Anonymous said... on Oct 28, 2009 at 01:03AM

“Why do web sites allow comments? Every discussion on every topic becomes a King of Prussia hate fest.”

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41. theresa ann said... on Oct 28, 2009 at 01:44AM

“my husband is a cashier, the cashiers will be out of a job soon, due to the new smart system, see they get rid of people and give it to machines to run, maybe they can get a system to run septa all robots so they can get rid of the mangement too,”

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42. Anonymous said... on Oct 28, 2009 at 02:34AM

“Fear not, Theresa. Your husband's contract has a "no layoff clause" He will not be out of a job. NYC has smart cards and they still have cashiers. SEPTA may change the job title, but smart card will bring a new set of problems that will make it darn near impossible to do away with an employee at every station. Remember, smart cards require smart passengers. Your husband will tell you that smart passengers are rare.”

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43. SueSepta.com said... on Nov 3, 2009 at 08:05PM

“I am starting a class action lawsuit against the people who caused the strike. www.suesepta.com please sign people up who have been severely affected by the stirke and email your stories to suesepta1@gmail.com”

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44. Anonymous said... on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:52AM

“Oh, PLEASE! You're kidding, right? Who are you going to sue and what in God's name do you expect to get? I work for SEPTA and I'm severely affected by the strike. I guess I'll sue myself. As Bugs Bunny would say, "What a maroon"!”

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45. Anonymous said... on Nov 7, 2009 at 10:01PM

“why are they even allowed to have a union at septa...?? unions are questionable when it comes to quality and service of a product...this is too important a service to have unions involved.”

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46. tom said... on Nov 9, 2009 at 07:33AM

“ridle me this: at what point do i shut down the nations transport systems, cripple the nations economy, for the demands of a few, who, I might add, many would love to have such pay and benifits? ding ding ding. why it was rwr, with the air trafic controlers strike. riddle me this, with how many scratching for a living at 8 -12 bucks an hour, with no insurance, are not impressed ?. wanna trade places? no? then Ill be glad to come up there and do your job for 40k and insurance for my family. oh wait, the mex's will do my 20k or for 18k. but wait... its called outsourcing... india for 8k.... or china for 3k.... well , just call it even... of course we will be there... maybe.... e1 salary is about, (take home pay 12k) or you can work hard and get to e7 or o3, assuming you dont get kiilled, or maimed. still less than you are making. for that?... sorry if i sound irritated, but I am.. guess i did not know how to climb on board that particular gravy train...”

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47. Anonymous said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 04:08AM

“Tom, climb aboard the gravy train at www.septa.org. Fill out an application and soon, you, too, can enjoy a thankless "career" as Ralph Kramden. You'll be driving a bus through the worst areas of the city late at night for a starting salary of about $14.00/hr. (I'm not quite sure of that figure, so someone, please correct me if I'm wrong.) Weekends off? Fuggetaboutit! Maybe you'll get a Saturday or Sunday off (but not both) after about 8 years. Summer vacation? Yeah, in about 10-12 years. Want to see your kids open Christmas presents? You can do that at noon on the 23rd or 10 PM on the 26th. Oh, I almost forgot... You'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner, microwaved of course, at 2 AM on Black Friday for the next decade unless Thursday happens to be your regularly scheduled day off. Wait until you have the pleasure of driving a bus on Mischief Night. First, I have to define “Mischief Night”. It’s technically not just one night. (continued)”

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48. Anonymous said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 04:10AM

“It starts around October 1st and runs ‘til about November 15th. You drive a 40-foot-long target down the street while every hoodlum in the city throws eggs, rocks, 2x4’s and everything else that’s not nailed down at you. Then, when you finally get some seniority and get ONE week of summer vacation and ONE weekend day off, you get attacked and suffer a permanent injury. After surgery and a year of rehab, you’re offered a cashier position that pays 10% less than you made as a driver (NOT the same rate as the writer claimed). You’re again at the bottom of the slate (seniority list) and you’re again working weekends and holidays for the next decade. (continued)”

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49. Anonymous said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 04:16AM

“THIS is why we make 50K a year. Remember, that is NOT our starting salary. It takes many years to get to that level. Still want to trade places with me, Tom? I don’t want to trade places with you. I want you to join me and put up with all the crap I put up with over the last two decades – especially dealing with passengers who share your viewpoint and attitude. Then, and only then, you can tell me I don’t deserve my salary and I don’t deserve my benefits. You couldn’t walk a yard in my shoes, let alone a mile. The only thing I don’t deserve is to be put down by someone who can’t proofread his comments or find the Shift Key for anything but a question mark. Thanks for riding SEPTA and have a great day!”

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50. I'm #11, 12 said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 08:14AM

“It's mind boggling to me that so many posts lament on our pay and benefits but don't seem to have the motor skills required to complete an application. They say they'd love our job but still don't take the steps necessary to achieve this "plum" of a job. Could it be you already know you can't qualify for the job? Is it the possibility of a life time of continued random drug testing as a bus or trolley operator daunting? Or is it the written test that is administered before you can join the ranks of the truly scorned intimidating? For those of you that haven't taken the time to look and listen like I requested, the 50k Septa pays us is as much a necessity on their part as a privilege on ours. Septa knows, as well as we do, that this salary is the hook that keeps us on the job and the transportation working. If is wasn't for that you'd hear more tales of operators walking off the job, leaving you stranded. As #47-49 stated you couldn't walk a yard in our shoes. (1 of 2)”

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51. I'm #11, 12 said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 08:26AM

“(2 of 2)
Here's one of the other pills we have to swallow to keep our "cherry" of a job. #47-49 mentioned the slate but he didn't define it. The slate is the seniority list that keeps the system manned. The slate is also the leading cause of divorces at Septa. As a new hire (or when you transfer to a new location) you have to work your way from the slate to the regulars, how long you stay there is a matter of employee attrition. The joys of the slate include but are not limited to the following: Working from day to day, not knowing your next weeks days off until the Thurs. before the week starts. Those days off are subject to Septa's whims. Report times where you don't get paid as you wait for a piece of work. The reports are the worst; that's where Septa tells you to report to work and set until some one turns in sick. Septa can hold you there for 3 hours while you wait for that piece of work. If no "run" can be found for you they send you home with 8 hours pay, sounds good right?”

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52. I'm #11, 12 said... on Nov 12, 2009 at 08:40AM

“Sorry guess I needed more than 2 spaces.
So getting paid for the report sounded good right? Well it isn't because if Septa pays you for the report you loose any and all overtime you might have made during the week. Now you might think that a fair trade, go tell that to your family. Because our dispatchers are aware of the rule so they'll give you 10 hour shifts for 4 days and "R" you (that's what we call it) on the 5th day. Keep in mind a 10 hour shift pays 11 hours so by "R-ing" you Septa saves 4 hours. And if you do get work after the 3 hour report you still have to complete a full shift, that's an 11 hour day. Everyone thinks we're on a "gravy train" but there are some serious hooks to working for this company. The reason we get paid what we do is Septa knows it's the only way to keep us on the job and the system running. Remember Septa has high powered "suits" on the job to try and eliminate our pay, but in the end they know it's the only thing that keeps the rubber on the pavement”

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53. Anonymous said... on Nov 13, 2009 at 03:33AM

“Well said, but you two forgot to tell Tom about sick pay. Hey, Tommy! How many sick days do you get in a year? We get 60. Yes, you read it right - SIXTY!!! Now, before you have a stroke let me explain how it works. You have to be out 5 days with NO PAY before you get paid HALF PAY for the next 6 months. Could you pay your mortgage on half pay? Then there's the 'point system' where you accumulate points for various reasons. Each absence is 2 points, late is 5 points, etc. Points can only be subtracted by 2 for being good (no sick or late days) for a month. In a nutshell, SEPTA uses these points to warn you, suspend you and ultimately fire you, unless you have a good lawyer or have some dirt on the Assistant Director of Transportation. No comment yet, Tommy? Tommy? Tommy, can you hear me?”

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54. Anonymous said... on Nov 13, 2009 at 03:45AM

“Oh, yeah, when we retire we get NOTHING for unused sick days. Feel free to reply, Tom. Hurry up and fill out that application for the "gravy train". I hate to break it to you but the only gravy on this train comes from the pigs who drop their KFC on the El.”

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55. Union Is A Joke said... on Sep 2, 2010 at 09:30PM

“All SEPTA Cashiers are nothing but a bunch of lazy f**ks who don't want to do anymore than they have to,they're ignorant,rude. I welcome the smart card machines. At least they won't be rude to you.”

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