Tuesday, April 01, 2003

  • MONEY ME$$ It turns out that the financial situation at SEPTA is far worse than anyone could've anticipated. In an extremely rare news conference by Fearless Leader, the dire news was laid out as SEPTA attempts to address a nearly $50-55 million budget gap. A mix of fare hikes and service cuts - as warned by this site a few weeks ago - are planned. Upon first glance, the service cuts seem to hit Chester and Delaware Counties pretty hard, while there is a lesser impact in the city, Montgomery and Bucks. Given SEPTA's track record as it pertains to the western suburbs, this is really not a surprise.

    Part of the problem with SEPTA is the lack of funding coming from Harrisburg. Unlike most states - particularly in the western part of the country - SEPTA - and most transit systems in Pennsylvania - does not have a permanently dedicated source of funding that allocates "X" amount of dollars per year. Funding from Harrisburg has been frozen at near-1996 levels since the passage of Act 3, which was supposed to give SEPTA and other state-funded systems a dedicated funding source. That funding source (which will be detailed in future posts) has actually decreased over the past two years due to the slowing economy and de-regulation of the electricty industry (part of the funding came from utility taxes).

    The bad news is the legislature rapidly passed Gov. Rendell's budget without going through the traditional budget process, as has been reported on several media outlets across the state. Making things worse is this response from Eric Bugaile, director of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Commitee, as told the Inquirer's Jere Downs in today's editions:

    "SEPTA will be crying 'poor me,' but those cuts are here to stay."

    Nice. For further unintentional comedy, you may also want to note that SEPTA Board Chairman/Chief Micro-Managing Officer Radio Impresario/Turnpike Commissioner/Land Developer Extraordinaire/Former Convention Center Board Member and all around weasel Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. called the budget situation "a nightmare for us." Well, gee, Mr. Deon, it was your GOP buddies in Harrisburg who decided to slam the budget down our throats without any meaningful debate.

    The hearing dates were posted last month, and will be reposted within the next day or so. Stay tuned, as things are going to get very ugly, very quickly.
  • No comments: