PlanPhilly

SEPTA approves operating and capital budgets, concourse maintenance, service plan

In a matter of minutes Thursday, the SEPTA board approved a $1.327 billion oprating budget and $571.77 million capital budget *, agreed to take over maintenance of the Center City transit concourses and approved the fiscal year 2015 service plan.

Capital Funding

Thanks to state transportation funding enabled by Act 89, SEPTA approved a $571.77 million capital budget for FY 2015 and a $6.8 billion tentative 12-year capital program. 

In FY 2015 alone, SEPTA expects to receive $330.7 million from the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Trust Fund – so long as Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia contribute $11.1 million in matching funds. 

PlanPhilly reported in April on what a difference a year makes. The $571.77 million fiscal year 2015 capital budget is more than $200 million more than last year’s $308 million capital budget. $43.3 million will go toward SEPTA bridge projects. $58.9 million will be spent on “communication and signal technologies.” Substations will get $61 million, and $35 million will go toward infrastructure safety and renewal. 

Operating Budget

While SEPTA’s capital budget got a boost from Act 89, SEPTA’s operating budget is in a category of its own and is on par with the FY 2014 operating budget. In FY 2015, SEPTA’s operating budget will be $1.327 billion, with $532.9 million coming from revenues and $794.3 million coming from subsidies. 

The FY 2015 operating budget is just $44 million more than the FY 2014 operating budget of $1.283 million. 

As PlanPhilly reported earlier this week, SEPTA faced a $4.2 million operating deficit during FY 2014, but the fiscal year is not yet over. The current operating deficit is $1.3 million, and SEPTA Chief Financial Officer Rich Burnfield said SEPTA will end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. If so, this will be the 15th consecutive year.  

Center City Concourse Maintenance 

In December, SEPTA announced that it would take over maintenance responsibilities for the Center City transit concourses owned by the City of Philadelphia. Thursday, the SEPTA board authorized the authority to do so. 

There are currently 3.5 miles of underground concourse beneath Center City Philadelphia, and the city spends about $1.3 million on annual maintenance and utility costs. SEPTA will assume those costs and has identified $40 million worth of additional capital needs. 

“We primarily get blamed for the condition of [the concourses],” said SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey in December. “We now have the financial wherewithal to fix them up, which the city does not, nor have they ever, nor do they have plans to fix them up.”

FY 2015 Service Plan

The SEPTA board also approved the fiscal year 2015 service plan. 

This year SEPTA received a record number of suggestions for the FY 2015 service plan – an uptick attributed to the use of social media, passengers’ personal interest in transit and a company culture that, SEPTA officials say, fosters feedback. 

The adopted service plan includes all of the changes (including changes to nine bus routes) detailed in the proposed service plan, which SEPTA shared with the region last month. 

*When first reported, the opearting and capital budget totals were incorrect. The story has been corrected and updated.

About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. 



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