SEPTA is moving forward with initiatives to renew critical infrastructure, replace aging portions of its fleet and expand capacity for growing ridership under its proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Budget and 12-Year Capital Program. The capital budget funds projects such as bridge and track replacement, reconstruction of stations and other facilities, and the purchase of new vehicles.
The $534.54 million FY 2016 proposal advances SEPTA’s “Rebuilding for the Future” initiative. The authority embarked on this plan following the November 2013 passage of Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout Pennsylvania.
With Act 89 funding in place, SEPTA is embarking on a number of projects to catch up on its $5 billion State of Good Repair backlog. “Rebuilding for the Future” provides the authority with a road-map to tackle this work, along with initiatives that will expand capacity to address ridership growth and improve accessibility for customers.
The following are some of the major programs included in SEPTA’s proposed FY 2016 Capital Budget:
- Bridge Program: Work at critical spans along the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line, such as the replacement of the Crum Creek Viaduct and upgrades to the Darby Creek, Cobbs Creek and Ridley Creek Viaducts – all of which date back to the late 1800s. Rehabilitation work on a number of stone arch bridges throughout the Regional Rail system will also advance.
- Regional Rail Parking and Station Improvements: SEPTA will strategically expand parking to meet increasing demand on Regional Rail, which has experienced ridership growth of more than 50 percent over the last 15 years. A record 36.7 million passenger trips were made last year. Work for FY 2016 includes parking expansion at Lansdale and North Wales Stations. Station Improvements are also planned at a number of locations, such as Levittown, Secane and Exton.
- Signals and Substations: SEPTA is moving forward with efforts to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on Regional Rail by Dec. 31, 2015, as mandated by the federal government. In addition, SEPTA will move ahead with overhauls to 1930s-era power substations.
- Transit System: Station work focusing on accessibility improvements will advance at 40th Street and the Arrott Transportation Center. The Center City Concourse overhaul will enter the first of its five planned phases, initially focused on escalator and elevator improvements. Trolley infrastructure renewal will continue, including another “blitz” this summer for upgrades to the Center City Trolley Tunnel.
- New Rail Vehicles: To expand capacity for growing Regional Rail ridership, SEPTA will add new bi-level rail coaches and upgrade and expand its locomotive fleet. The locomotives currently in SEPTA’s fleet are beyond their useful lives; plans call for 13 new units.
- New Hybrid Buses: SEPTA plans to continue its bus replacement program with the purchase of 525 new diesel-electric hybrids between 2016-2020. The authority will also move ahead with procurement for new Customized Community Transportation (CCT) vehicles.
- Infrastructure Safety Renewal Program: Work will continue throughout the system to repair and replace track, signals and communication systems, improve grade crossings and enhance maintenance and support systems.
SEPTA riders and other local residents are invited to ask questions and submit comments about the Capital Budget during public hearings on Tuesday, April 28. Sessions will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Board Room at SEPTA Headquarters, 1234 Market Street, Philadelphia. An independent hearing examiner will review testimony and submit a recommendation prior to the SEPTA Board’s vote on the proposal, which is expected at its regular monthly meeting on May 28.