Monday, November 08, 2004


In a follow-up to Friday's posting, the Inquirer ran the full article in both Saturday's edition and apparently in Sunday's editions as well. Sunday's posting is identical from Saturday's article, with a couple of notable paragraphs missing from Sunday (these are highlighted in boldface; the rest of the quotes are a follow-up to what was originally posted on Friday afternoon):

However, Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Philadelphia) predicted yesterday that dependable funding for transit would be secured by the time lawmakers adjourn for the year before Thanksgiving.

"We must fix this problem. It's connected to the economy, the hospitality industry, everything," said Evans, the minority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "Forget the turkey. Nobody gets stuffing until it gets fixed."

By state law, transit agencies use riders' fares to pay half their operating costs and rely on state subsidies for the rest.

For SEPTA, only about 14 percent of those subsidies comes from a reliable source that can be counted on to grow with inflation, according to a Brookings Institution report released in June. In that respect, SEPTA lags at the bottom of a list of transit agencies. Others, such as those serving Boston and Dallas, receive more than half their subsidies from dedicated state sources.

SEPTA's current funding crisis has been slow but sure in coming. For the six years preceding the current state budget, for example, Pennsylvania transit agencies largely received flat or declining state aid.

"It is like living on a fixed income," Moore said yesterday.

Now, SEPTA managers are drawing up plans to downsize, Moore said. It is a massive effort, she added, including selecting workers and combing through union pacts and federal and state rules to determine who can be laid off and when.

"If there is going to be a Band-Aid solution, I need to to know because I have to tell people if they will have a job or not," Moore said.

If SEPTA begins layoffs, managers must go first, said Jeff Brooks, the newly elected president of the 5,000 members of Transport Workers Union Local 234. Bus and subway operators, mechanics, cashiers and others are protected, Brooks said recently, because their contract has a no-layoff provision after one
year on the job.

"The legislature should hold SEPTA management accountable for the deficit," Brooks said. "Remember the boy who cried wolf? Nobody believes they are really broke this time."

But no SEPTA employee is safe, Moore said yesterday.

"Tell Mr. New Person that he better get his act together and read his contract," Moore said of Brooks. "A big part of this will be TWU operators and mechanics."

Isn't it interesting how a couple of Fearless Leader's comments, including her angry response to Mr. Brooks were left out of Sunday's editions? Either (a) there was some very loud complaining from Fearless Leader or possibly the Ministry of Mis-Information regarding the bold faced comments or (b) the Inky ran had to edit the article in Sunday's editions due to space limiations. Either way, I have a feeling that enough people may have caught Saturday's article that led to the "offending" comments being removed.

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