Doomsday to come as House shoots down transportation bill

SEPTA train
Credit: Metro file photo

Doomsday is upon us.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives did not pass a transportation bill Monday night that would have spread out $2.3 billion in funding to repair many of the state’s bridges, roads and public transit systems.

In September, SEPTA officials laid out its “Doomsday scenario”: Without the state funding, the transit authority would wither away. Essentially, the transit company claimed most of the Regional Rail lines would gradually fall into disrepair and eventually be eliminated along with reductions on several other services.

Tuesday night, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey said the cutbacks presented “were just a forecast of our future.”

“And that was the best estimate based on engineers assessment of the condition of our infrastructure,” he said. “We do not expect any immediate cutbacks. What we’re looking at is a slow death, if you will, of our rail system.”

While the need to raise taxes was repeatedly cited as a major concern for the bill’s collapse, many lawmakers noted the provision that eliminated the need to pay union-level wages for the public projects that caused the most indecision.

The state Senate passed a similar bill in the spring, but it did not include wage changes.

Monday night, lawmakers said they would revisit the proposal, but as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, nothing had been passed.

“The needs are there,” Casey said. “And it’s not just public transit. It’s, the highways, too… and we’re running our buses over the same crumbling bridges and crumbling roads.”

“It’s critical to the region, it’s critical to the Commonwealth, so something really needs to get done,” he added.

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Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan

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