New SEPTA schedules take effect for Regional Rails and subway lines to fight coronavirus spread

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New SEPTA schedules take effect this week in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with changes for Regional Rails and subway lines.

As previously announced, most Regional Rail lines will move to an "Essential Service Schedule" Sunday. 

That means trains will run every two hours as opposed to hourly, with the exception of the Airport line, which will run hourly instead of every half-hour.

Beginning Monday, the Cynwyd line will only run Monday through Friday.

Scott Sauer, SEPTA's assistant general manager of operations, said the changes come amid a decline in ridership due to the pandemic.

"Our regional rail service has seen a 94% reduction, so we’re only carrying 6% of our ridership now on regional rail and on Transit it’s somewhere in that 70-75 range for reductions," he said.

There will also be changes to the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines.

"We're going to discontinue that owl service from 1 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. and use that time to get the equipment in and give it a thorough cleaning as well as our station, and prepare for the morning commute for those essential staff," Sauer explained. 

He said SEPTA is trying to practice social distancing, while still providing for essential workers and those who need to go to essential places. "As far as timeline is concerned for us we're following along with what public health officials are giving us an guidance and we’ll make adjustments as we need to," he added, emphasizing the need for most people to stay in.

"We’re really discouraging those folks who don’t have a need to be out to not use the system," Sauer said.