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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.
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