Sign at the entrance to the West Trenton SEPTA station
Sign at the entrance to the West Trenton SEPTA station (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

SEPTA riders on the West Trenton and Trenton lines are in for a crowded ride as one-third of the service's passenger cars have been taken out of service over a serious safety issue.

Riders out of the two New Jersey lines will continue to pay their regular fare while joining most of SEPTA's other regional rail lines on an "enhanced Saturday schedule" with less frequent service, but an extra train that will run earlier than normal to start the day.

Lines on the enhanced Saturday schedules include: Trenton, Manayunk/Norristown, Media/Elwyn, Lansdale/Doylestown, West Trenton, Chestnut Hill East, Wilmington/Newark, and Paoli Thorndale.

Lines on a regular Saturday schedule: Airport line, Chestnut Hill West, Fox Chase, Warminster, and the Cynwyd line.

SEPTA warned that some trains may not be able to stop at all stations due to reduced seating capacity.

"Given these conditions, we are asking customers to consider using SEPTA Transit services as an alternate to regional rail," said SEPTA in a statement. This will be less of an issue for riders at the Trenton and West Trenton stations in the morning since they are both at the beginning of their respective lines.

Other key changes:

• Broad Street Line and Market Frankford line: Extended morning service until 10 a.m., evening service from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free parking is being offered at the former Naval Hospital at 16th Street and Pattison Avenue

• Norristown High Speed line: Extended morning service until 10 a.m., evening service starting at 3 p.m. Hughes Park service is canceled. Nearly 1,000 free parking spots are being offered at the Frankford Transportation Center, and another 300 spots will be at 601 N. Columbus Blvd. There is also free parking at the Norristown Transportation Center.

• Route 101 and 102 trolleys: Extended morning service until 10 a.m.; evening service levels are from 3 to 7 p.m.

General Manager Jeff Knueppel said at a Sunday afternoon press conference that cracks were found on 95 out of 100 Silverliner V cars in the equalizer beams which have been used on SEPTA’s lines since 2010. The cracks were discovered during an inspection after a car was noticed to be leaning in one direction on Friday.

A total of 120 cars systemwide have been taken out of service, which equals 13,000 less seats available for regional rail riders. SEPTA's regional rail usually transports about 65,000 riders each way per day.

With the reduction in seats, the trains will probably be able to carry only 35,000 to 40,000 people according to Ron Hopkins, SEPTA's assistant general manager for operations.

SEPTA said in a statement it is in discussion with NJ Transit and Amtrak over additional service and equipment.

"Our Regional Rail schedules will continue to evolve throughout the summer as Silverliner V cars are returned to service and we can restore lost capacity," SEPTA said.


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