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Philadelphia restores public transit, draws on ‘rainy day fund’

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The sounds of urban commuting are back in Philadelphia. After two days of the city being shut down due to Tropical Storm Sandy, the 6 a.m. train comes as relief for people like Professor Dean Hammer. “I like the rhythm of work. You get sort of crazy just sitting around timelessly waiting for things,” he says.

About one million people ride trains, buses and trolleys in Philadelphia. The public transportation system in the city didn’t take a beating like New York’s, but spokesperson Heather Redfern says they’ve had to work overtime to make sure everything is ready to go, “We had crews out constantly refreshing them as best as we could. Getting them in, getting new crews out. Working with contractors.”

All the manpower plus two lost days costs money. “Our daily revenue is about $1.7 million, so not being able to run for those days, and then you put in the crews and cleanup, add to that. So it could be a significant cost,” says Redfern.

Redfern says SEPTA will draw on their rainy day fund to help absorb the cost. Rainy day fund, indeed.

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