SEPTA launches pilot plan to reduce deadly falls and jumps on tracks

These numbers seem to continue an upward trend of falls in recent years. Between 2016 and 2020, 522 people fell on SEPTA tracks. Of that number 411 occurred on the Market-Frankford Line.

The authority saw 183 falls in 2020, nearly double the number in 2019, and a five-year peak. In 2016, the number of falls was 72.

However, injuries and fatalities from falls dropped to a five-year low in 2020. Last year there were 155 injuries between Regional Rail, subway, and trolley stations, with 18 fatalities.

There were 20 fatalities in both 2018 and 2019. Overall injury counts haven’t been below 200 since 2017.

The boost, according to SEPTA officials, may be due to people using SEPTA stations as de facto shelters or individuals experiencing addiction. Some of those people may fall onto the tracks because they’re under the influence of drugs.

The authority is currently looking to address addiction and homelessness with initiatives that pair law enforcement with social workers to respond to incidents.

While track falls may be a result of a mental health crisis or addiction on the system, with their Watch Their Step campaign, SEPTA officials point out that some falls occur for more mundane reasons, such as when riders lean over the edge of the platform to see the next train or are distracted by their phone.

The authority also plans to include a more intricate barrier as part of its City Hall renovation project.

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