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6/23/2003



Rail News: Passenger Rail

SEPTA proposes amendments to preliminary FY 2004 budget


Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) plans to revise its proposed fiscal-year 2004 budget, eliminating most service cuts and fare increases included in the preliminary budget.



Officials are recommending an $875 million operating budget — $13 million less than the previously proposed budget. The agency plans to cut costs associated with materials, diesel fuel, power and damages, consolidate warehouses and weekend operations, and reduce train frequency on some lines.



SEPTA also plans to increase parking lot fees from 50 cents to $1.



"The message we clearly heard from our customers, the business community and elected leaders was that severe service cuts would have a devastating effect on the lives of thousands of individuals and the regional economy as a whole," said board chair Pasquale Deon Sr. in a prepared statement. "The state budget process is incomplete and we believe it would be premature and unfair to our customers to take such drastic measures until we know for certain the level of subsidies SEPTA will receive."



The agency plans to finalize the budget once officials know how much SEPTA will receive in state subsidies. If sufficient state funds are not available, SEPTA might have to reintroduce some fare increases and service reductions into the budget. The agency is anticipating a $55 million budget shortfall.



The board will consider the new recommendations at its June 26 meeting.


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