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Tuesday, September 17, 2013    

SEPTA needs additional state funding to carry out critical repair projects, GM says


The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will have to "significantly shrink" its transit system over the next decade if the agency doesn't receive additional state funding to support a backlog of critical state-of-good repair projects, General Manager Joseph Casey told a state transportation committee late last week.

Casey and SEPTA Chairman Pasquale Deon Sr. also detailed the agency's needs and the impact of pending service cuts in a letter sent last week to Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch. The letter detailed the $6.5 billion the agency needs over the next 10 years to address its state-of-good repair needs.

Fiscal-year 2014, which began July 1, is the fourth consecutive fiscal year of reduced capital funding from the state, and the lowest level of capital funding for SEPTA in 15 years, according to Casey, who testified last week before the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee. In that time, SEPTA has registered its highest ridership in two decades, including all-time high regional rail ridership last year.

To continue operating safely and reliably, SEPTA will need to implement a Service Realignment Plan, which would leave 89,000 riders without rail service daily, the agency estimates.

"This is due to critical, immediate need to modernize SEPTA's rail network, such as replacement of bridges that date back 100 years or more and purchasing new regional rail cars, subway cars and trolleys to replace vehicles that already date back 30 years or more and are well beyond their useful life," SEPTA officials said in a press release.

Without an infusion of state funding, SEPTA will need to take the following steps during the next 10 years:

• eliminate service on nine of 13 regional rail lines, including Cynwyd in 2014, Media/Elwyn in 2015 and Chestnut Hill West in 2018, followed by West Trenton, Airport Warminster, Wilmington/Newark, Fox Chase and Chestnut Hill East lines in 2023;
• truncate service on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line in 2018 and Paoli/Thorndale Line in 2023;
• suspend service on the Broad-Ridge Spur of the Broad Street Line and eliminate all express service on the Broad Street Line; and
• convert all city and suburban trolley routes to bus, and truncate service on the Norristown high-speed line.

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