At the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a spokeswoman for Schoch said Thursday, "If the scenario outlined in the letter comes into play, we'll work with SEPTA and other partners in the region to minimize the impact to the public as much as possible."
"This is yet another consequence of the lack of transportation investment and is of no surprise to the secretary," said deputy PennDot press secretary Erin Waters-Trasatt.
State Sen. John Rafferty (R., Montgomery), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and led Thursday's committee hearing at Temple University, said he took SEPTA's threat seriously.
"I don't think it's saber-rattling," he said. "This is a real, critical need."
Rafferty said he would negotiate with House Republicans to try to win passage of the Senate-approved $2.5 billion transportation-funding bill before the end of the year. He said he would not compromise on the total amount of aid, but was willing to discuss possible changes in fees and taxes to fund the measure.
He urged Corbett to lean on House Republicans to pass the funding bill. And Rafferty said it was "incumbent on us to get it done before the end of 2013," because 2014 is an election year, when lawmakers are especially loath to vote for tax or fee increases.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), an outspoken opponent of more funding for public transit, said SEPTA was trying to scare residents and lawmakers into providing more money, and likened it to the recent campaign by Schoch to place weight limits on 1,000 bridges.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the Corbett administration was working hand in glove with them . . . trying to scare people. With the legislature coming back, this is a good time to roll it out there, but I think it's going to backfire," he said.
"It's a very small minority of people who actually ride the buses," Metcalfe said. "It's hundreds of millions of dollars for a very small percentage of the population of our state."
He said transit should be run as private, for-profit operations. He acknowledged he did not know of any companies seeking to take over transit agencies, which were originally created to take over from bankrupt private companies.
Copyright 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer