Thursday, August 19, 2004


Last week, we reported on SEPTA's latest attempts to lobby for dedicated funding from Harrisburg, hoping it was a one time deal.

Umm, no.

From yesterday's Metro page:
Every building owner knows the importance of regular maintenance and planned upgrades to ensure the useful life and value of their property. SEPTA is a $3 billion organization with an annual Capital budget of $400 million. As a regional business, SEPTA follows the same responsible management principles. [Yeah, right. -ed.]

The only difference - instead of a home or store - the Authority has hundreds of stations, depots, and other facilities - some constructed in the early 1900s - and operates close to 2,800 vehicles that serve the fifth largest transit operation in the nation.

Investing in capital improvement projects enables the Authority to enhance the delivery of service for customers, refresh vital system infrastructure, and keep pace with technology. These resources enable SEPTA to reconstruct the Frankford Transportation Center complex, create a 100% ADA accessible bus fleet, install new track and signal systems between Wayne Junction and Glenside and renovate Suburban Station and the Market Street Elevated Line.

But what would happen to SEPTA and its five county service region without sufficient funding to complete these and other projects? Track and signal replacement on the R5 Paoli Line wouldn't happen; renovations to busy Broad Street Line stations wouldn't be completed; new buses and rail cars would not be purchased; and electrical power substation and overhead wire improvement projects would have to be deferred.

Just think about the impact on the quality of service if SEPTA was forced to delay or cancel capital improvement projects in order to close a $62 million budget gap.

Can you imagine it? Neither can SEPTA.
Never mind the fact that the capital budget comes from a separate pool of funding than the operating budget, which somehow managed to decrease its defecit by $8 million thanks to a 6.59 percent increase in Act 3/Act 26 funding in the current budget. SEPTA is now trying to mislead the public into thinking that key capital projects won't go forward unless the legislature coughs up more money for the operating budget.

You may also notice that SEPTA didn't bother to mention a few minor projects among those that they're threatening to defer without the extra funding: The $chuylkill Valley and "Cross-County" rail corridors. I guess those two boondoggles will go forward, financial crisis be damned...

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