New year has new goals for fully funded SEPTA

SEPTA bus
SEPTA bus

Four months ago, SEPTA unveiled a doomsday plan that predicted drastically reduced public transit services in coming years, including cutting 9 of 13 regional rail lines and converting all trolley lines to bus routes.

But going into 2014, thanks to a state transportation funding bill that met SEPTA’s needs, that doomsday scenario will not play out.

“Needless to say, we’re thrilled,” said SEPTA general manager Joseph Casey of the funding. “When you look at the alternative and what our future was facing and what our customer were facing, it was not a pretty picture.”

In the doomsday budget scenario announced in September, cutbacks would begin in 2014 if SEPTA didn’t receive a sizable budget injection.

Instead, SEPTA has a five-year timetable for capital improvements around the system, called Catching Up, unveiled in late December.

“A lot of critical infrastructure is failing us. The immediate attention will be to those infrastructure problems,” Casey said.

One of the first projects to get underway will be replacing the aging bridge timbers at three bridges on the Media/Elwyn line, to prevent the entire line from being shut down.

Further down the road, SEPTA hopes to get started on refurbishing and improving City Hall station, Casey said.

SEPTA will also take over responsibilities for the concourse.

“We want to fix them up, have a huge facelift of those facilities, make people feel safer walking underneath and have it be more aesthetically pleasing,” Casey said of the concourse and City Hall stations.

The doomsday scenario was avoided thanks to a $2.3 billion state transportation bill signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in November. An estimated $340 million of those funds will go towards SEPTA’s budget over five years.

Renewal projects

Replace rail vehicles: new electric locomotives and Silverliner VI models (replacing Silverliner IV) for use on regional rail lines, and new trolleys.

Replace/rehabilitate bridges: Media/Elywn lines, Crum Creek viaduct, Elwyn to Wawa bridge, Norristown High-Speed Line bridges and viaducts.

Replace/rehabiliate railroad, high-speed line, and subway power substations, many nearing 80-90 years in age: including Jenkintown, Ambler, Morton, Lenni and Lansdale; Clifton, Market and Castor substations.

Refurbishing transit stations: 69th Street West Terminal, Center City concourse, City Hall/15th Street, 5th Street, Wyoming, 19th Street and Hunting Park.

Track renewal on all trolley lines and Norristown High Speed Line.

Stabilizing cuts in land and slopes near railroad tracks, such as in Media, on Mainline, in Limekiln and Ardsley.

Rehabilitating railroad stations: Exton, Levittown, Secanee, Villanova Tunnel, Yardley, East Falls, Conshohocken, Willow Grove, Wyndmoor, Jenkintown, Roslyn, Lawndale and Paoli.

Expanding parking around railroad stations.

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