The SEPTA Board approved Operating and Capital budgets for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011. The Operating Budget does not increase fares and maintains current service levels. The budget vote was taken during the SEPTA Board’s regular monthly meeting on May 26, 2011.
The budgets reflect SEPTA’s ongoing commitment to control costs and increase efficiencies, while improving customer service and modernizing an aging infrastructure. The $1.22 billion Operating Budget represents an increase of about 3.5 percent over Fiscal Year 2011, despite significant increases in areas such as healthcare, prescriptions and claims.
For the second straight year, SEPTA expects to defer dozens of improvement projects that are vital to the short- and long-term health of the transit system. The $311 million Capital Budget represents a 25 percent reduction compared to funding levels of two years ago, leaving just enough to cover expenses such as debt service, new buses and paratransit vehicles, equipment overhauls, and mandates such as Regional Rail signal system upgrades. Meanwhile, long needed improvements – from City Hall Station renovations to critical overhauls for aging electrical substations – are delayed indefinitely.
These projects were expected to move forward with the help of Act 44, a measure approved by Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2007 to create a dedicated source for transportation funding. To fully fund the initiative, Act 44 called for generating new revenue streams, including the addition of tolls on Interstate 80. Last year, however, the federal government rejected the states I-80 plan, forcing SEPTA to cut 22 improvement projects from the 2011 budget. It has also halted many elements of the Authority’s long-term Capital Improvement Plan, which in recent years has resulted in major infrastructure upgrades, the addition of new equipment and improvements in customer service.
SEPTA, however, remains optimistic funding for infrastructure improvements will be addressed. General Manager Joseph M. Casey pointed to Gov. Tom Corbett’s formation of the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, which is studying ways to fund transportation statewide.
“SEPTA looks forward to hearing the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission’s recommendations, and working with Gov. Corbett’s administration to find solutions to Pennsylvania’s transportation funding crisis,” Casey said. “I also want to assure our riders that, despite these funding challenges, SEPTA remains committed to providing the highest level of service possible, and making further system improvements.”