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SEPTA's board OKs fare increase, defers budget action

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) board approved a plan last week to increase fares and simplify the payment process. The board also deferred votes on the agency's  proposed $1.3 billion operating budget and $300 million capital budget because of state funding uncertainties.

The board will revisit spending plans for fiscal-year 2014, which begins July 1, at a meeting to be held later this year, SEPTA officials said in a press release.

The proposed operating budget represents an increase of less than 3 percent compared with FY2013, but is projected to have a $38 million shortfall. The budget is at a 15-year low, while the proposed capital budget represents a 25 percent decrease compared with FY2010 levels, SEPTA officials said.

A recent Economy League of Greater Philadelphia report found SEPTA has efficiently used state and federal capital dollars, but would need more than $450 million in additional funds each year over the next two decades to address state-of-good-repair needs.

Meanwhile, the fare hike is in line with the board's strategy to enact cost-of-living fare increases every three years. The new fare plan includes increasing the cash fare from $2 to $2.25 on July 1, and then to $2.50 with the implementation of a new payment technology in mid-2014.

In the coming months, SEPTA officials plan to announce a customer educational campaign about the new payment system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/28/2013