SEPTA to reopen Somerset Station on April 5

SEPTA has set a reopening date for a stop on the Market-Frankford line that was shut down last month due to multiple safety issues.

Video Transcript

- We're going to begin now with the temporary closure of a SEPTA station used by hundreds of people every day.

- Though officials did not want to inconvenience commuters, they say they had no choice because it simply was no longer safe.

- For more on the issues at the Kensington station, we turn now to Action News reporter Beccah Hendrickson. Live at SEPTA headquarters for the details, Beccah.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: Brian and Sarah, SEPTA's general manager called this a crisis. She said that the station is not safe for customers or employees because of broken elevators and drug use, and until that can be addressed, starting Sunday, that Somerset station is going to be shut down.

The roar of the Market Frankfurt line above Kensington Avenue can't hide the crisis underneath.

RICKEEM MCNEIL: Honestly, I would never take a child on this stop.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: A crowd meets train riders at the entrance of the Somerset station, who have to avoid used needles on their walk up to the platform.

TAMIKA BELL: I need to train. I need to train. I don't have a car. I have a bus pass.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: Tamika Bell has no other choice.

TAMIKA BELL: They can't shut this down. How are we supposed to get to work, and get-- I use this to get to work every day.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: SEPTA says it will temporarily shut down this station starting Sunday. How long that will last depends on how quickly it can be cleaned. The elevators are broken because of human waste and needles. Fixing that could take months.

LESLIE RICHARDS: Our employees don't feel safe, as well as our customers. And so we need to close the station.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: SEPTA says drug use around this stop has gotten worse in the new year. Eight people have fallen on the tracks since January, compared to 13 all of last year. Philadelphia police say they've responded to 36 calls in the last 30 days for drug sales.

DERICK FORD: You see a lot of drug abuse, you see a lot of forgotten, lost people. People society forgot. And they all kind of collected in this one place.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: It's also a place that, according to SEPTA, serves 800 riders every day.

KHYLE WILLIAMS: People that go to work ride the L as well. We need to ride the L. Or it's sending us into other danger zones, where we got to walk, or now find different commutes to work, and we may not be able to do it.

BECCAH HENDRICKSON: SEPTA says that it's working with the city, mental health experts, and other community partners to find ways to better help the homeless people in that area. It's also working with engineers to find an alternate route for commuters at that station. Live in Center City, Beccah Hendrickson, Channel 6 Action News. Brian?

- OK, Beccah. Thank you.