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Thread: SEPTA struggles with deficit

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    SEPTA struggles with deficit

    The quote from a SEPTA Board representative is why transit in this country isn't maintained. The way you send a message to politicians that they need to fund transit is to cut service and/or increase fares. I can understand temporarily borrowing against capital, but in the case of Pennsylvania this is a state that COULD afford to fund transit but simply chooses not to:

    Another option, Casey said, is shifting money from SEPTA's capital budget - a maddening but familiar ploy that slows plans to expand or improve the transit system's infrastrucure.

    "That would be preferable to a fare increase," said Jettie Newkirk, who as one of two Philadelphia representatives on the SEPTA board has fought previous fare increases. "But it would still be robbing Peter to pay Paul."
    rest of article at:

    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/n...a/16055511.htm

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Same story different day. This is a chronically mismanaged transit sytem, in need of a bailout every few years.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Ah SEPTA! One of my fondest memories as a child is learning to read the permanent metal plaque riveted - yes, riveted - to the interior walls of the SEPTA trains: NO SPITTING
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Same story different day. This is a chronically mismanaged transit sytem, in need of a bailout every few years.
    As opposed to the well-managed systems that don't need "bailouts"? SEPTA is mismanaged, sure, but you seem to be implying that the good transit systems are making money. Transit is a public service that we subsidize with tax dollars of one mean or another, like we do public schools and libraries. SEPTA gets periodically "bailed out" because its dedicated funding source is pathetically small.

    Dedicated Funds as Percent of Operating Expenditures:

    Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) 84.5%
    Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority 73. %
    Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston) 69.9%
    King County Department of Transportation (Seattle) 60.5%
    Denver Regional Transit District (RTD) 59.9%
    Los Angeles County Metro Transit (LACMTA) 57.2%
    Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority 54.5%
    Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) 54.1%
    Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) 48.2%
    MTA New York City Transit 31.1%
    Port Authority of Allegheny County 26.7%
    San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) 24.9%
    SEPTA 22.7%
    New Jersey Transit (NJT) 20.4%
    Miami-Dade Transit 8.9%
    Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) 2.0%

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt View post
    As opposed to the well-managed systems that don't need "bailouts"? SEPTA is mismanaged, sure, but you seem to be implying that the good transit systems are making money.
    Passdoubt is correct. SEPTA needs more money, but by simply deferring capital spending to keep things going one more year SEPTA doesn't properly communicate the need and urgency for it to get more funding. SEPTA needs to actually cut the service and increase fares in a draconian manner and let the public communicate with decisionmakers that SEPTA is deserving of funding. In addition, I think the cities/borughs/townships/counties served by SEPTA need to step up to the plate. In other words, state operating subsidies should require a 1 for 1 match from local governments so that the locals can't just pass the blame.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Unfortunately, cutting service and raising fares DOES NOT necessarily cause politicians to increase transit funding. Since the percentage of transit trips hovers around 5% in most cities in this country, the outcry is relatively small. All raising fares does is shift the burden to county and municipal welfare agencies that provide the (working) poor with transit tokens. Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul...
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm View post
    Unfortunately, cutting service and raising fares DOES NOT necessarily cause politicians to increase transit funding. Since the percentage of transit trips hovers around 5% in most cities in this country, the outcry is relatively small. All raising fares does is shift the burden to county and municipal welfare agencies that provide the (working) poor with transit tokens. Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul...
    But it's more sophisitcated than that. Currently SEPTA's main sources of funding are the Commonwealth and the Federal government. The local jurididictions that are served by SEPTA would like any bailout to come from the state. The fact is the state does not for various reason seem to be able to fund SEPTA's need so any bailout will probably require an increase in LOCAL subsidies to SEPTA.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority used to be funded the same way SEPTA is now. The MBTA would submit a bill to the legislature every year after the fiscal year ended. A few years ago, the legislature passed the "forward funding law," which requires the MBTA to operate within a budget and dedicates 1 cent of the 5 cent statewide sales tax to the MBTA. The MBTA also assesses all member municipalities an annual fee based on level of service provided.

    Revenues have been down since 2001 and now the MBTA is raising fares to cover the expected deficit. The subway and bus fares ($1.25 and $1.70) will still be low compared to other large transit agencies, however the commuter rail fares will be pretty high (with some monthly passes running $250).

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