Awaiting state aid, SEPTA adopts temporary budget

Posted: June 28, 2013

Still hoping for last-minute funding from the legislature, SEPTA's board approved a one-month budget Thursday to keep the transit agency operating through July.

Regardless of what the legislature does, though, fares will go up for SEPTA riders Monday. The board approved the fare increases in May.

SEPTA officials said they hoped a new state transportation-funding measure would be approved in Harrisburg this week to provide enough money to pay for the next 11 months of the fiscal year.

"I don't know what's going on there," said SEPTA Chairman Pasquale T. "Pat" Deon Sr. He said SEPTA "continues to have serious concerns with respect to both timing and the level of funding for transit" after a House committee vote Thursday.

The $97.2 million spending plan approved by the SEPTA board for July will let SEPTA keep its buses, subways, trolleys, and trains running while the legislators and Gov. Corbett wrangle over the state budget that is to take effect Monday, the first day of the new fiscal year.

Corbett, the Senate, and the House have competing transportation-funding proposals. SEPTA officials prefer the version approved by the Senate on June 5 because it would provide the most money for transit systems: an estimated $152 million next year, compared with $48 million in a House version approved Thursday by that chamber's transportation committee, and $40 million under Corbett's plan. SEPTA typically gets about two-thirds of state transit funding.

SEPTA's proposed $1.3 billion annual operating budget, which pays for its regular transit services, includes a $38 million deficit. Unless additional state funding is approved, SEPTA will face the prospect of its first unbalanced budget in 14 years, and the deficit could force service cuts or additional fare increases later in the year.

SEPTA is also counting on state funding for much of its $308 million capital budget, which pays for vehicle purchases and major construction and repair projects.

On Monday, the cash fare will rise to $2.25 from $2, and a token will cost $1.80 instead of $1.55. For Regional Rail passengers, fare zones will be consolidated, with the elimination of Zone 5.

A weekly pass that now costs $22 for bus and subway riders will cost $24, and a monthly pass will increase to $91 from $83.

Ride limits will be imposed on weekly and monthly passes. Weekly passes will allow up to 56 trips, monthly passes 240.

Gender stickers will be eliminated on passes.

By the end of the year, SEPTA plans to issue electronic "smart" cards to replace tokens, passes, and transfers on subways, buses, and trolleys.

By mid- to late 2014, Regional Rail travel is to be transformed by subway-style gates in Center City stations and electronic card-readers in the suburbs.

Details on the new fares are available on the Internet at http://www.septa.org/fares/new/index.html or by calling SEPTA customer service at 215-580-7800.


Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|