SEPTA had hoped to get some of the money for the fare system from the state, as part of the revenue expected from tolls on I-80. But the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the state's tolling plan in April.
Agency officials also tried unsuccessfully to get $75 million for the fare system last year from the federal stimulus funding program.
On Friday, SEPTA revenue and ridership chief John McGee said the agency did not get a hoped-for $29.3 million from the "TIGER II" program of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"We need to make some decisions . . . on how we will advance this from a financial point of view," McGee said. "There's a new sheriff in town, and we have to see how that pans out."
Republican Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and a Republican-led state House and Senate will be in charge in Harrisburg by January, and a new Republican leadership will have control of the U.S. House. That may affect transportation funding in Philadelphia and other cities.
SEPTA wants to award a contract by early next year for a high-tech fare system to replace its current tokens, tickets, and passes for buses, subways, and commuter trains.
Passengers would be able to wave a card with an implanted electronic chip at a sensor on a turnstile or fare box and be on their way.
SEPTA says it wants a system that will allow passengers to use bank cards, prepaid SEPTA cards, and even cell phones to pay for their trips.
McGee said SEPTA expected to get answers to technical questions about the current proposals by the end of the year, "and then it becomes an issue of how do we pay for this."
The manufacturers vying for the SEPTA contract have made "alternative financing proposals," McGee said, without detailing them. The makers are ACS Transport Solutions Group, of Columbia, Md.; Scheidt & Bachmann, of Germany; and Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., of San Diego.
The purchasing process has fallen far behind the schedule announced by SEPTA in November 2008, when the agency said it hoped to award a contract by April 2009.
McGee said SEPTA has continued to make preparations for a new fare system, by upgrading bus and trolley fare boxes and by installing fiber-optic lines into all Broad Street and Market-Frankford subway and elevated stations.
Once a contract is awarded, it will take about two years for a new system to be installed in SEPTA vehicles.
Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.