Some of the essential workers keeping SEPTA running

Public transit workers are some of the most essential people in Philadelphia right now. Without them, many other critical figures — from hospital cleaners to grocery cashiers to longterm care staff and more — couldn’t get to their own essential jobs.

As an organization, SEPTA has been hit hard by the pandemic. More than 190 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least four employees have died of COVID-19.

With Regional Rail ridership at next to nothing and fares suspended on buses and trolleys, the revenue decline has been steep. The authority is in line to get $643 million from the CARES Act, but that only covers a fraction of its $2 billion annual operating budget.

The union that represents about 5,000 SEPTA workers says it wants the agency to implement better safety measures. But because of how important they are to the city’s continued operation, even if there’s some kind of action, union leader Willie Brown says people will still come to work.

What kind of jobs are these essential workers doing? Everything from maintaining elevators to conducting trains to driving special routes for seniors and ADA customers.

Below, meet 20 SEPTA workers on the front lines, continuing their duties so Philadelphians who need to can still get around.

Charles Cole Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Charles Cole
Title: Subway/Elevated Train Operator
What I do: Transport passengers in a safe and timely manner
Job location: Fern Rock Transportation Center
Length of service: 26 years

“I know there are a lot of essential employees who rely on SEPTA, so I want to be here for them.”

Ericka Deeds Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Ericka Deeds
Title: Station Manager, Dispatcher
What I do: Directly supervise the daily assignments, payroll, and other needs of 171 employees
Job location: Suburban Station
Length of service: 17 years

“When I took on my position as a manager, I knew the job would be critical in most aspects. I take my job very seriously because I’m doing my part in assisting seniors and ADA customers with their essential needs by getting them from Point A to Point B daily.”

Bob Crain Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Robert “Bob” Crain
Title: Elevator/Escalator Specialist
What I do: Maintain the elevators and escalators throughout the system for B&B (Bridges and Buildings) CTD (City Transit Division) as part of EM&C (Engineering, Maintenance and Construction)
Job location: 5800 Bustleton Ave.
Length of service: 15 years

“During these difficult times, I take pride in ensuring that those in need of or are providing essential services are able to use our elevators and escalators to get to their destinations.”

Darryl Myrick Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Darryl Myrick
Title: CCT Operator
What I do: Transport ADA and senior customers
Job location: Easton Coach
Length of service: 2 years

“I’m happy to be able to take people where they have to go, including dialysis and other medical appointments. They might not have other means of transportation. I’m transporting aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers. It’s rewarding at the end of the day because I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”

Donald Collings Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Donald Collings
Title: Customer Service Agent
What I do: Respond to questions, concerns and commendations from customers
Job location: 1234 Market St.
Length of service: 20 years

“Being there for our customers is what keeps me going. It feels good to be able to help them.”

Glen Guenther Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Glen Guenther
Title: Railway Signal System Maintainer 1st Class
What I do: Repair, maintain and test signals, including cable, electrical and mechanical equipment apparatus on railroad lines
Job location: Wayne Junction
Length of service: 30 years

“I have a positive outlook for the future of the Philadelphia area. When the riding public returns to work, we need to have all systems ready. This is my way of doing my fair share.”

Edward Flynn Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Edward Flynn
Title: Bus Operator
What I do: Operate the LUCY bus in University City
Job location: Germantown District
Length of service: 8 years

“I’d like to start with the fact that I feel safe in my work environment, which alleviates some of the worry. Since I have the tools I need, I can focus on my passengers, many of whom are healthcare workers. I’m honored to assist them in any way I can because they are really giving 110% for our community.”

Olivia Hopkins Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Olivia Hopkins
Title: Project Engineer (Civil Engineering)
What I do: Inspect all drainage structures in SEPTA’s railroad right-of-way
Job location: 1234 Market St.
Length of service: 5 years

“My friends and family in the health care field who are working long shifts without complaint inspire me to approach each day with gratitude.”

Larry Pugh Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Larry Pugh
Title: Station Manager, Control Room
What I do: Monitor via CCTV all subway elevated stations for safety and security
Job location: Suburban Station
Length of service: 34 years

“I feel that when I decided to become a SEPTA manager, I knew that my responsibilities would extend well beyond the nine-to-five schedule of many other jobs. So many people are counting on us right now to do our best.”

William R. Juliana Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Ofc. William R. Juliana
Title: Transit Police Officer
What I do: Enforce all local, state and federal laws on and around the transit system
Job location: Frankford Transportation Center
Length of service: 11 years

“My inspiration for being out here is knowing that the responsibilities of any first responder are very important. It’s equally important to know that SEPTA Transit is a team, and we always want to make the best effort to ensure the safe travels of our passengers.”

Vaughn Morrison Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Vaughn Morrison
Title: Customer Service Agent
What I do: Respond to questions, concerns, and commendations from customers
Job location: 1234 Market St.
Length of service: 19 years

“It gives me a sense of accomplishment to be able to answer travel questions from customers who need to get around.”

Luis Rodriguez Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Luis Rodriguez
Title: Director, Regional Rail Division Operations
What I do: Oversee any issues with operations related to Regional Rail
Job location: North Region
Length of service: 24 years

“The dedication and hard work that we demonstrate as a team on a daily basis pushes me to strive in our mission to make sure we get our passengers where they need to go.”

Bernard Norwood Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Bernard Norwood
Title: Regional Rail Conductor
What I do: Conduct train, ensure safety of passengers, and collect revenue
Job location: Suburban Station
Length of service: 36 years

“As an essential employee, first and foremost, I enjoy being a railroad conductor. The responsibilities are tremendous and working with great co-workers makes it easier to work each day during this pandemic. The most important gratification is knowing that in transportation, during times like these, we have doctors, nurses, police, and many other essential personnel that are also on the front line counting on us being there to transport them.”

Kevin Clark Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Kevin Clark
Title: Station Manager/Department Training Coordinator
What I do: Directly supervise maintenance staff and cashiers, train all new maintenance custodians
Job location: 69th St. Terminal
Length of service: 13 years

“What inspires me is knowing that I can make a difference by helping to build morale and bridge the gap between management and hourly employees during these scary times.”

Gary Miller Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Ofc. Gary Miller
Title: Transit Police Officer
What I do: Enforce all local, state and federal laws on and around the transit system
Job location: Frankford Transportation Center
Length of service: 16 years

“I’m here to help the riding public any way I can – assisting people on trains, buses, or wherever else they need us. I want to be a mentor to my fellow officers and help guide the next generation of police.”

Eileen Woods Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Eileen Woods
Title: CCT Dispatcher/Monitor
What I do: Monitor and adjust trips for CCT customers
Job location: 1234 Market St.
Length of service: 1 year

“I’m happy to be part of a team that helps provide mobility to our most vulnerable customers. I’m looking forward to restoring service to the rest of our riders as soon as possible.”

Jesse Ransome Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Jesse Ransome
Title: Subway/Elevated Maintenance Custodian
What I do: Maintain cleanliness of stations
Job location: Subway concourses
Length of service: 8 years

“I’m tasked with maintaining one of the most challenging areas that we at SEPTA are responsible for. The concourse areas provide access for most of our daily passengers throughout the day. During this present crisis that we are all going through, I feel that my job is very important for everyone who needs to utilize our transportation system. I appreciate the importance of my job and feel confident at the end of the day that I made a difference.”

Joe Donofrio Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Joe Donofrio
Title: Telecommunications Technician
What I do: Install, maintain, repair and replace telecommunication systems and all related equipment
Job location: Varies
Length of service: 4 years

“I love my job and I love the work I do. I’m proud of the responsibilities given to me and the confidence my bosses have in me to keep our telecom infrastructure up and running, especially in these unprecedented times.”

James Stoutmire Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: James Stoutmire
Title: Market-Frankford Line Station Cashier
What I do: Validate all fares presented and provide entry for customers
Job location: 15th St. Station
Length of service: 23 years

“I’m well aware that it’s critical that I’m healthy and able to perform my duties every day. I work at a very busy location and my presence has a great effect on all of my customers.”

Teddy Joseph Credit: Courtesy SEPTA

Name: Teddy Joseph
Title: Tech Mechanic
What I do: Perform maintenance and repair on CCT vehicles
Job location: Whole transit system
Length of service: 10 years

“Operators and customers rely on me to get them where they need to go.”