Study: SEPTA is broke

SEPTA
Without an infusion of funds, a new report says SEPTA will have to cut its services. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

SEPTA is broke – and the transit agency’s financial woes could have deep economic implications for the entire region, according to a study released Monday by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Econsult Solutions.

“Understanding SEPTA’s Statewide Economic Value” states SEPTA is facing “a growing crisis of capital need.”

The report concludes without “an infusion of capital funding,” SEPTA won’t be able to sustain its current levels of service and will be forced to truncate its system.

That could cost the region nearly 25,000 jobs, $96 million in tax revenue, $8 billion in property value and an untold amount in total economic impact, as service to Philadelphia’s vital downtown hub is cut and “residents and businesses generate less revenue and locate elsewhere,” the study reads.

“As the legislature considers transportation-funding proposals, the information in this report provides context and comparisons to other systems that demonstrate SEPTA’s importance to our region,” Economy League executive director Steve Wray said in a statement.

The report notes that while ridership is at a 23-year high, SEPTA’s capital budget is at a 15-year low despite a growing backlog of capital needs totaling $4.7 billion.

SEPTA is attempting to balance between maintenance – some of its infrastructure is more than 100 years old – and upgrading to new technologies.

But the report estimates the agency needs an additional $452 million annually in additional capital funding just to work off its repair backlog – and that’s without accounting for any expansion projects.

If unaddressed, the backlog will lead to the elimination of 40 percent of SEPTA’s system, causing a “mass migration” from transit-oriented communities that could cost Philadelphia an additional loss of 60,000 jobs, $289 million in annual tax revenue and more than $14 billion in property value, the study projects.

“This analysis shows how important it is to the regional economy and the Commonwealth as a whole to fund SEPTA adequately,” Econsult Solutions president Richard Voith said in a statement.

SEPTA’s $304 million capital budget is lower than that of transit agencies in comparable cities – the 2013 capital budget for Boston’s MBTA is $800 million and that of New Jersey Transit is $1.16 billion.

Were SEPTA’s funding on par with that of the MBTA, SEPTA would be able to completely eliminate its repair backlog in 20 years, according to the report.

In fact, SEPTA receives far less money from the state than most transit agencies and is more dependent on federal funding than any other transit system in its peer group, relying on federal monies for 60 percent of its annual capital budget.

The comparative underfunding comes in spite of the fact SEPTA’s fare recovery ratios are comparable to peer transit agencies and, on average, higher than those of other transit systems in the state.

“SEPTA has proven to be an exemplary steward of public funds and continues to be a wise investment for the Commonwealth,” Voith said.

By the numbers

The study also found that SEPTA:

  • Supports nearly 26,000 jobs
  • Contributes $3.21 billion to the region in economic output each year
  • Generates $62.5 million in annual state tax revenue
  • Carries 77% of transit riders in the state
  • Receives only 62% of state transit funding


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD: Man denied money punches 65-year-old at Bronx…

A 65-year-old man was punched and shoved at a D train station in the Bronx last week when he denied another man money, police said.

Local

New York Governor Cuomo's office intervened in corruption…

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office meddled with a commission he created to root out corruption in state politics, pushing back whenever it focused on groups tied to Cuomo, the…

International

South Korea ferry fugitive found dead with bags…

By Ju-min Park and Sohee KimSUNCHEON/INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea's most wanted man, whose heavily decomposed body was found in an orchard last…

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shaprio's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

Movies

Interview: 'Happy Christmas' director Joe Swanberg on making…

"Happy Christmas" filmmaker Joe Swanberg talks about the collaborative nature of his films with name actors and the difficulties of getting indies seen.

Gossip

Is Justin Bieber now a Calvin Klein underwear…

A source told the Daily Mail that Justin Bieber "has shot for Calvin Klein" and that they "hope the results will be released later this year." While probably…

Gossip

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

NFL

3 storylines to watch as Jets open training…

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

Education

Elementary school students like their healthy school lunches…

When the federal government first rolled out its healthier school meal guidelines in 2012, elementary schoolers weren't happy. Much was written about how America's youngest…

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…