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Rail News: Passenger Rail

SEPTA plans new payment system, rail-car purchase and station renovation


At its January meeting, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) board approved funding proposals for three major initiatives: a $250 million grant and fare revenue bond plan to acquire 120 new regional rail cars and renovate the Wayne Junction Station; and a $175 million plan to install a new fare payment system.

The grant and fare revenue bonds are anticipated to provide up to $208 million to buy 120 new, Silverliner V regional cars under a contract with Hyundai-Rotem, plus related costs. The cars "will significantly upgrade customer service throughout the regional rail system," SEPTA officials said in a prepared statement.

The grant and revenue bonds also will help finance the Wayne Junction Station renovations this year, even though the project was cut from the fiscal-year 2011 capital budget due to a 25 percent funding reduction. Funding for the station will come from a $4 million grant award from the Federal Transit Administration and $23 million from the bond sale.

In a separate decision, the board approved a loan commitment agreement with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) Regional Center that will provide up to $175 million in funding for a new payment technology initiative that includes a "Smart Card" project, as well as related infrastructure, communications and customer service improvements.

The new payment technology initiatives will be financed through the "Welcome Fund," a low-cost loan program developed by PIDC in conjunction with CanAm Enterprises L.L.C.

SEPTA pursued the "innovative" financing after the Smart Card project was cut from the fiscal-year 2011 capital budget due to the 25 percent cut, SEPTA officials said. The new payment system is expected to be completed in about three years.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/1/2011