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

Masked men robbed armored car in Mayfair, police…

Two masked men made off with more than $100,000 this morning after an armored car heist in Northeast Philadelphia, police said.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Teen in 'Jihad Jane' terror case to be…

A judge on Thursday is set to sentence a high school student who pleaded guilty to helping al Qaeda and working with the woman known as "Jihad Jane."

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…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

Movies

The Cannes Film Festival announces its 2014 lineup

The lineup of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival was announced this morning, promising the latest from a slew of usual (and some unusual) suspects.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

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

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

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

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

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.