SEPTA could eliminate nine lines under doomsday plan

SEPTA's current route is on the left. On the right is the map SEPTA is proposing if they don't receive the funding they need. Credit: SEPTA
SEPTA’s current route is on the left. On the right is the map SEPTA is proposing if it doesn’t receive additional funding. Credit: SEPTA

If the state doesn’t allocate more money to public transit this year, SEPTA’s current routes could drastically change, officials said today.

Joseph Casey, SEPTA’s general manager, testified in front of the Senate Transportation Committee today, producing two very revealing maps: SEPTA’s current transit routes, and a map that shows the possible elimination of nine rail lines, the closure of a subway line and the conversion of trolley routes to bus routes.

“It’s real,” Casey told Metro today. “It’s not fabricated. It’s what the price of inaction is.”

A bill that would provide more than $500 million — enough to maintain service — was passed by the Senate in June, before summer recess. But the bill has yet to move forward in the House.

SEPTA is implementing what it is calling a Service Realignment Plan that could leave nearly 90,000 daily riders without rail service. Bridges are in poor condition, subway cars are aging, and other new vehicles are needed, Casey said.

“We have a backlog of repairs of $5 billion,” Casey said. “That’s with equipment and facilities well past their useful life. Under the current funding scenario, the capital program we have is $300 million. As that proceeds over the next 10 years, that $5 billion will grow to $6.5 billion.”

The realignment plan won’t be rolled out immediately, but parts of it could happen as early as next year. The Cynwyd line could be eliminated in 2014, followed by Media/Elwyn in 2015 and Chestnut West in 2018. The West Trenton, Airport Warminster, Wilmington/Newark, Fox Chase and Chestnut East lines would close eight years after that.

It’s sounds too far away to worry about now, but Casey assures that it’s not.

“Power substations, if they go out, there’s no money now,” he said.

It’s not a wish list, he added, it’s what SEPTA needs. Hopefully the House gets their act together and tries to pass a bill,” Casey said. “I just don’t know if it will happen.”

Other services that would be affected over the next decade include:

  • Truncating service on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line by 2018 and the Paoli/Thorndale Line by 2023
  • Suspending service on the Broad-Ridge Spur of the Broad Street Line and eliminating all express service on the Broad Street Line
  • Converting all city and suburban trolley routes to bus and truncating service on the Norristown High Speed Line

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