Image result for septa philadelphiaSEPTA and Supply Chain Preparedness

Contingency planning is important in any business. Previously, I wrote an article regarding Preparing Your Supply Chain for Unexpected Weather, and the need to have a contingency plan developed in order to prevent disruptions in your supply chain.  However, contingency planning is not only critical for weather disasters, it is also critical in other instances as well, for example, labor strikes.

Being that Source One is located in Philadelphia, the need for contingency planning these days is heavily apparent. CNN reported as of midnight Monday, October 31st that Philadelphia public transit workers were going on strike. “The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, known as SEPTA, said the strike would affect all subway, buses, and trolley routes in the city. About 800,000 people use the city’s transit system daily.” SEPTA’s Regional Rail, which covers a limited area, will be the only option for public transport in and around the city.

How can businesses prepare and prevent disruptions? Below are some of the tips included in my previous article regarding preparing your supply chain:

Identifying your suppliers
Considering potential threats
Analyzing Demand
  Filling the gaps

In anticipation of the strike, SEPTA did release a contingency plan. In reviewing the plan in comparison to my tips for preparing a supply chain, let’s see how SEPTA shaped up in disaster preparedness.

In Identifying “suppliers”….SEPTA scored Moderate. Although SEPTA has service Regional Rail Lines that are continuing to operate, they are operating near capacity. Additionally, since SEPTA workers are union labor, they do not have a way to push past the strike until the contract issue is resolved. And lastly, the Regional Rail Lines may be making adjustments to their schedules or routes in order to accommodate passengers.

In considering potential threats…..SEPTA scored Poor. Union labor strikes are always going to be a threat for SEPTA. Resolving contracting issues prior to contract expiration is crucial. There are more than 4,700 union members who are part of the strike in the City Transit Division, and although SEPTA might know this is a potential threat, having a back-up plan or other means of transport for affected public transportation users is part of disaster preparedness.

In Analyzing Demand….SEPTA scored Poor. There are over 800,000 people who use the transit system daily and need the public transportation for work especially. It is not helpful to expect Regional Rail lines to solely accommodate this many people since the Regional Rail Lines are already operating near capacity, and the demand for public transportation is not going to diminish.

In Filling the Gaps…SEPTA was Poor, yet again. If SEPTA’s contingency plan states that, “Center City Regional Rail Stations in the evening will be working to answer travel questions and help customers, but it is important to remember with Transit services not in operation it may not be possible to complete your trip,” you can be sure that a best practice of filling the gaps in disaster preparedness was not checked off on SEPTA’s list. Filling the gaps would mean providing transit users with other means of travel, whether it be taxis, Uber, Lyft, other buses, etc. for the same cost as what they would be paying to take SEPTA.

All in all, the delays and frustrations are apparent regarding the SEPTA strike. Contingency planning and supply chain preparedness is not only important when weather disasters hit, but it is important to analyze any potential threats your business might have, and we are seeing that a big threat to SEPTA and operations is the union labor strike. These employees are critical to operations and there was not enough preparation in advance of the strike to prevent delays and shut downs in transit operations.
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Nicole Mahaffey

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