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
National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox beat White Sox…

Red Sox walk 15 times in extra innings win

NBA

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics:…

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics: 'I hope to be back'

NBA

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery…

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery odds with loss

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.