Melvin Joyner, 38, of Collingdale, said the transit police keep public transportation busy because they create a more comfortable atmosphere.
"Anyone in their right mind coming down here would get a little nervous," Joyner said at the City Hall station of the Broad Street subway. "It's very important to make sure that our subway system is safe and that we have an authority around that can control the environment and make sure the children can get to school and adults can get to work."
Joyner said he notices police, or lack thereof, whenever he uses the subway, but some frequent SEPTA users never even heard about the strike.
Nate Wade, 22, of Roxborough, who rides the subway five times a week, said he wasn't struck by the lack of transit police because he doesn't see them often anyway. Still, he said he supported the strikers.
"I personally believe in collective bargaining, and they've got to preserve their standard of living," he said.
Morgan Albert, 21, of Philadelphia, takes SEPTA each weekend to and from Neumann University. She doesn't feel worried when she rides the subway but she likes to see officers.
"Especially on the actual train, it makes it more relaxed and more comfortable," Albert said.
Returning officers declined to discuss the tentative settlement until union members vote later this week on ratifying the proposed contract.
The 219 officers can expect an 11.5 percent salary increase over five years and a $1,250 bonus upon ratification, based on contracts other SEPTA unions have approved.
The sticking point in the strike had been a 35-cent-an-hour difference in "certification" pay between the union's demand and SEPTA's offer.
U.S. Rep. Robert Brady (D., Pa.), who was involved in talks with SEPTA board chairman Pat Deon and union chief Richard Neal Jr., said, "My role was just to make sure they kept talking. You can't solve a problem if they're not meeting."
The current starting salary for officers is $34,612, topping out at $57,351.
Subway rider Connor Shafer, 26, moved to Philadelphia eight years ago from Harrisburg. He said he didn't feel uneasy using public transportation and thought transit police deserved the boost in salary.
"If they want to strike, they've got the right to do that and I stand by them," Shafer said. "I think they've got a hard job."
Contact Dan Moberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.