November 7, 2016 / 11:05 AM / 3 years ago

Philadelphia transit strike ends one day before presidential election

(Reuters) - A bus and rail strike in Philadelphia that had threatened to hamper voter turnout at Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election has ended after workers reached a deal with the transport authority, the two sides said on Monday.

The walkout, declared a week ago over healthcare, pensions and other issues, idled buses, trolleys and trains that provide some 930,000 rides a day in the fifth most populous U.S. city.

The tentative five-year deal announced at a news conference outside Transport Workers Union headquarters is contingent upon ratification by union members and the board of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

SEPTA said in a statement that service would be phased back on Monday, with full schedules restored by the start of the service day on Tuesday, which is also Election Day.

The agency said last week that a continuation of the strike through Tuesday could affect voter turnout.

Pennsylvania is a key swing state in the campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Philadelphia is a stronghold of the Democratic Party, which held its convention there in July.

In addition, the U.S. Senate race pitting incumbent Republican Pat Toomey against Democrat Katie McGinty is considered one of about six close contests that will determine which party controls the Senate, where Republicans now have a majority. Polls show McGinty with a slight lead.

On Friday a judge refused to halt the strike, denying a back-to-work petition by transit officials who argued the walkout endangered public welfare.

“We know that the strike has caused a significant hardship for thousands of our riders,” SEPTA Chairman Pasquale Deon said in a statement on Monday. “We sincerely regret this disruption.”

Transport Workers Union Local 234 said in a separate statement: “Tentative agreement reached. We are off strike.”

The union has endorsed Clinton, but members voted last month not to suspend the strike for any reason unless an agreement was reached.

Reporting by Chris Michaud and David Ingram; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Lisa Von Ahn

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