Pa. official calls for management audit of PATCO

Posted: October 03, 2013

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called Tuesday for a management audit of PATCO, the commuter rail line between Philadelphia and South Jersey, because of recent escalator and train failures.

And Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord said some of PATCO's problems could be traced to hundreds of millions of dollars spent on economic-development projects.

DePasquale and McCord are the only two unappointed members of the 16-person board that oversees PATCO and its parent, the Delaware River Port Authority. They serve on the board because of their positions in state government; the other members are appointed by the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

PATCO, which operates a 14-mile commuter line that carries about 10 million passengers a year, has been beset for months by broken escalators at its stations, after the agency allowed a maintenance contract to lapse July 31.

"It's very clear that we're going to have to have a management audit to figure out how it went undetected as long as it did," DePasquale said.

A management audit typically evaluates the competencies and capabilities of a company's management.

At PATCO, the broken escalators have become a flash point for customer dissatisfaction, as riders also have complained of deteriorating train service and dirty stations.

DePasquale said his office, by law, cannot audit the bistate agency. As chairman of the DRPA's audit committee, he said, he will talk to DRPA inspector general Thomas Raftery, who already is conducting a performance audit of PATCO, about overseeing a management audit as well.

McCord, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor, said PATCO was a victim of the DRPA's decision to spend about $500 million over 13 years on economic-development projects, such as sports stadiums, concert halls, and museums.

"PATCO could have better service and better maintenance today - and the drivers who use the bridges could be paying lower tolls today - if all along, funds had been spent in line with the original purpose of the DRPA," McCord said.

The DRPA's federal charter was amended by the two state legislatures and Congress in 1992 to permit economic-development spending. After spending the $500 million, the DRPA board in 2011, at the direction of Govs. Corbett and Christie, said it was out of the economic-development business.

DRPA chief executive John Matheussen said Tuesday that the economic-development spending had not diverted money from necessary upkeep of PATCO and DRPA facilities. The economic-development money was additional spending, not a diversion from maintenance, he said.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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