Thursday, January 01, 2004


The Inquirer reports some good news and bad news on the budget front...

First, the good news: SEPTA's budget for the current fiscal year can now be considered "balanced" thanks to the restoration of state aid cuts, totalling $15 million, plus a plan by SEPTA to approve the sale of $11 million in leases.

Now, the bad news: Citing inflation and possible labor cost increases resulting from negotiations with SEPTA's main union, SEPTA is staring at a nearly $70 million defecit next year.

SEPTA is planning to seek monthly co-payments from union employees for their health-care package, an idea that was immediately panned by interim TWU 234 President Dave Szczepanski:

"We have been giving concessions to SEPTA since 1998 ... Once again, SEPTA wants the people who sweat for them to pay for their shortfall."

SEPTA is still seeking a long-term funding solution from Harrisburg in order to avoid annual defecits. In recent years, SEPTA has been forced to divert $37 million in capital funding to the operating budget, resulting in delays in replacing the AM General trackless trolley fleet and rehabs of the Spring Garden and Girard subway stations.

Given how long it took those geniuses in Harrisburg to adopt this year's budget, I have a feeling that the next 12 months are going to get pretty ugly in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh, where the Port Authority of Allegheny County is projecting a $30 million budget gap, resulting in a reduced number of overhauled LRVs and delays in replacing aging buses.


After chronicling the numerous problems with the 104 all year - and seemingly for the past couple of years - it's odd that the last bus I took this year was the 104 (5302/4241 block), and it arrived at 69 St Terminal 10 minutes early...

For the record, the first bus I rode in 2004 was 7203 (65/5214 block) from 69 St to Overbrook. And yes, the sign was not properly working - it was frozen on "R3 SWARTHMORE" when it pulled into 69 St. And, the CARD console wasn't properly working.

Happy new year, SEPTA...

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