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Philadelphia - budget woes threaten SEPTA stability

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  • Edward
    Budget problems are threatening the financial stability of SEPTA, the Delaware Valley s regional transit agency, KYW CBS Philly reports. SEPTA operates
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2013
      Budget problems are threatening the financial stability of SEPTA, the Delaware Valley's regional transit agency, KYW "CBS Philly" reports. SEPTA operates Regional Rail, city streetcars, suburban light rail, trackless trolleys, rapid transit and buses:
      "Budget Woes Threaten SEPTA's Stability
      April 29, 2013 7:30 AM
      By Mike Dunn

      (photo - showing Silverliner V train)

      PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Even as SEPTA moves toward a new system-wide fare hike, a report being released today finds that the transit agency's capital needs are woefully underfunded.

      The study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Econsult finds that SEPTA ridership is rising in part because of huge capital investments made with federal stimulus dollars back in 2009.

      But that money is gone, and SEPTA's capital budget is now at a 15-year low.

      SEPTA's current capital budget is about $300 million, but according to this study, its needs as much as $4 billion.

      The report warns that the resulting delays in capital projects could have huge repercussions for SEPTA, ultimately causing it to have big problems in keeping up with the increased ridership.

      In fact, the study predicts that if the capital needs are not addressed, 40-percent of SEPTA service would have to be eliminated.

      That, in turn, would have huge repercussions for the city and region, with lost jobs, declining tax revenues and more people leaving mass transit.
      [end text
      Here is The Philadelphia Inquirer version of the story:
      "Study says SEPTA is strapped
      Paul Nussbaum
      Inquirer Staff Writer
      Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013, 3:01 AM

      (photo - showing SEPTA bus)
      (Courtney Marabella / Staff Photographer)
      Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
      Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013, 3:01 AM

      SEPTA supports nearly 26,000 jobs, contributes $3.21 billion in economic output, and generates $62.5 million in state tax revenue, according to a study released Monday.

      The study, commissioned by SEPTA, comes as the financially strapped transit authority seeks a fare increase and lobbies state officials for more funding.

      SEPTA provides more bang for the buck than other transit agencies in Pennsylvania and gets less than its share of state funding based on ridership, the study found.

      SEPTA also has a much smaller capital budget for such things as bridge repairs and new buses than other major transit systems in the United States, it said.

      The study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Econsult Solutions Inc. concluded that SEPTA is a major economic force in the region and state.

      And it warned of dire consequences if more state money for capital projects is not forthcoming:

      "Over the long term, SEPTA will be forced to gradually truncate its system and eliminate services to make ends meet; the region will gradually experience a dramatic erosion of jobs, tax revenues, and property values as its dense, economically productive urban core becomes unattractive to business and residents; and the commonwealth will suffer from the losses in its most economically productive region as residents and businesses generate less tax revenue and locate elsewhere."

      Economy League executive director Steven Wray and Richard Voith, president of Econsult Solutions, are to present the study findings Monday morning to business and civic leaders in Center City.

      Wray and Voith cited SEPTA's relatively paltry capital budget ($304 million this year compared to Washington's $1 billion, NJ Transit's $1.1 billion, Boston's $800 million, and Chicago's $950 million) as especially worrisome.

      Wray said Friday that state lawmakers should give local governments more power to raise money for transit, as many other states do. Voith said the state, having failed in its efforts to put tolls on Interstate 80 to fund highways and transit, needed to "establish an efficient and credible" method to restore capital funding to 2010 levels.

      The study will be available Monday at http://EconomyLeague.org
      [end text]
      Edward B. Havens
      Tucson, Ariz.
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