The Duo of Doom along with an assortment of Rotating Resumes from 1234 Market and members of TWU Local 234 attended a public hearing of Philadelphia City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities committee earlier this afternoon. SEPTA officials and board members gave the same song and dance that the public has been hearing for the past few months.
The hearing began nearly 15 minutes late because another committee hearing on an unrelated matter ran long. When it began, Councilman Michael Nutter (D-4th) heard from Don Pasquale, who left early to lobby in Harrisburg (of course, Mr. Turnpike Commissioner shouldn't have any problems getting through the toll plazas on the Turnpike) repeated many of the same talking points that have been hashed out before: SEPTA's reduced the workforce by nearly 1,800 people over the past five years as part of a $20 million savings plan (even though most of the savings took place prior to Fearless Leader's promotion to General Manager); it's critical that there's a unified message; we don't want to make these cuts, but we have no choice; etc., etc.
Board member Jettie Newkirk of Philadelphia reiterated the same mantras during her comments.
"There is no more fat," she said of the budget.
As far as the doomsday plan:
"This is not a threat ... it is simply a proposal to the board" in case funding from Harrisburg doesn't come through. "This is not something management wants to do. Nobody wants to see cessation of weekend service."
Following brief comments by SEPTA Board member Chris DiCicco, Nutter, who has been critical of how SEPTA has handled the Market Street El reconstruction and restoration of trolley service on the 15/Girard line, noted that SEPTA's presentation "brings great clarity to this situation" adding that it was truly a state-wide problem with most of the attention focused on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Fearless Leader then spoke, and yes, she brought up the same talking points before closing out her statement with this quote:
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if ... SEPTA was able to devote its full efforts towards running the system and less time begging for funding?"
My answer? Yes.