PA: SEPTA's New Budget Nearly Doubles Spending on Repairs, New Buses and Rail Cars, and Other Improvements

May 22--SEPTA will spend about 3 percent more for transit operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and it will nearly double its spending on major construction and repair projects, thanks to an infusion of state money.

The SEPTA board unanimously approved a $1.33 billion operating budget and a $572 million capital budget Thursday, without discussion.

The operating budget, which includes no fare increases, provides money for a pilot program to resume 24-hour-a-day subway service on weekends, beginning this summer. It also assumes an increase of 3.7 percent in labor costs; SEPTA is in protracted negotiations with unions representing bus and subway operators, commuter rail engineers, and mechanics and cashiers.

The capital budget provides a large boost over the current $308 million spending plan for construction, repairs and new vehicles. The additional spending was made possible by a boost in state transportation funding approved in November by the legislature.

The money will go for such things as a long-delayed "smart card" electronic fare-payment system, federally mandated positive train control on the Regional Rail network, new buses and rail cars, and repairs to bridges, tracks, passenger stations, and power substations.

The SEPTA board also approved a 30-year lease with the city that gives SEPTA control over much of the city-owned transit concourses beneath Center City.

SEPTA will now be responsible for the cleaning, maintenance and repair of most of the concourse beneath Market Street between 8th and 18th streets, and beneath Broad Street from JFK Boulevard to Spruce Street.

PATCO will continue to be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the city-owned concourse beneath Locust Street and the area around its 8th/Market Station, including the passageway between Market and Chestnut streets.

The Center City District, which had been responsible for most of the concourse cleaning, will continue to clean the concourses around the commuter rail stations at Suburban and Market East stations, under a SEPTA contract that expires at the end of 2017.

The CCD also will be responsible for maintaining the area beneath the new Dilworth Plaza now under construction west of City Hall.

pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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