And we've been putting our money where our mouth is to demonstrate our reliability. During the RailWorks construction periods, SEPTA has offered a Service Guarantee program to our riders to insure that they receive a ride that's on-time or their fare is refunded.
While it is true that our passengers have had to endure some inconveniences during the two summers because of RailWorks construction, many of our riders have made favorable comments about the alternative services during these past few months. Just to define the immensity of RailWorks, in that little four- mile section we have replaced 21 bridges (and rebuilt four others)! And we are doing it - expertly and under budget - in 10 months (a six-month shutdown in 1992 and a four-month shutdown this year, May 2 through Sept. 4).
In regard to SEPTA's fares, we happen to be one of the best bargains in the country. Over 80 percent of our riders use prepaid, discounted fares which can reduce travelling cost by over 50 percent. Considering the cost of driving an automobile - including gasoline, insurance and parking - SEPTA is cheap by
Mr. Hunter's reference to the "demolition of the trolley system" is certainly a misnomer. Our most recently adopted Capital Program includes over $200 million to purchase new light rail vehicles and to renew the infrastructures of Routes, 15, 23 and 56 in Philadelphia.
I also take exception to Mr. Hunter's negative comments regarding the rail commuter tunnel. SEPTA's Center City Commuter Connection was built by the City of Philadelphia in an effort to link the entire commuter rail network through a tunnel which would connect the former Penn Central and Reading railroad lines. However, this project was more than just a transportation project. It was the catalyst for economic development on east Market Street including construction of the Gallery and the Pennsylvania Convention Center.