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Delaware River Port Authority, PATCO set 2013 budget

The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), which oversees the Port Authority Transit Corp. (PATCO), has approved a 2013 budget of $257.7 million that reduces expenditures and debt.

The authority and PATCO trimmed total operating and debt service expenditures by $17.3 million, or 6.3 percent, despite a 70 percent increase in employee pension costs, DRPA officials said in a prepared statement.

The DRPA expects to collect $329 million in revenue from bridge tolls, rail fares, real estate rent and interest earned on cash reserves. Expenses associated with bridge, ferry and non-rail operations are anticipated to account for $84.4 million of the operating budget, while PATCO is expected to spend about $46.6 million on operations.

The 2013 combined capital budget for DRPA and PATCO is projected at $119.3 million. The DRPA/PATCO five-year capital budget is expected to total $746 million.

The authority is investing capital to re-deck the Walt Whitman Bridge and overhaul PATCO's 120 passenger cars, as well as make other infrastructure improvements to the Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry bridges.

"We may not be able to control rising pension costs … but by carefully managing debt service and continuing the expenditures we do control, we have delivered a tight, responsible budget that should help preserve the current bridge toll and rail fare structures for the foreseeable future," said DRPA Chairman David Simon.

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