Mar 8, 2024 - News

SEPTA struggles to curtail shootings on system

Illustration of shattered glass in the shape of a gun.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A series of shootings on or near SEPTA buses this week has reignited long-simmering questions about safety on the transportation system.

Why it matters: The spotlight on SEPTA's public safety problems comes as the agency struggles to boost ridership, amid Mayor Cherelle Parker's call for the business community and some city employees to return to offices full-time.

What happened: 15 people have been shot — three fatally — while in or near public buses since Sunday.

  • The most recent shooting left eight Northeast High School students wounded on Wednesday as the teens were waiting to board a SEPTA bus in Burholme. Police are searching for three suspects believed to be involved in the mass shooting and have found the car they were driving.

Catch up quick: On Sunday, a man in his 20s was killed while getting off a SEPTA bus in Oxford Circle.

Zoom in: Shootings are the biggest problem facing the agency, spokesperson Andrew Busch tells Axios.

Context: Quality-of-life issues, like disorderly conduct, and some violent crimes, like aggravated assault and robbery, spiked during the pandemic.

Zoom out: The public safety woes come as the National Guard is being deployed in New York City's subways to combat violence, Axios' Sareen Habeshian reports.

What we're hearing: Gov. Josh Shapiro spokesperson Manuel Bonder tells Axios the governor does not have plans to deploy the National Guard to Philly's transit system.

What's next: SEPTA police are cracking down on all crime following the shootings, including low-level offenses, per NBC.

What we're watching: How Parker, who has pledged to restore "lawfulness" in Philly, works to reduce violence on SEPTA. The mayor has said she will unveil her public safety plan around her 100th day in office.

  • Parker did not return our request for comment.

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