The passage of a $2.3B transportation package means that, at least for now, SEPTA is saved. When the transit system released its harrowing (and euphemistically named) "realignment plan" in September, the outlook was bleak: if SEPTA didn't somehow get its hands on $340M immediately, nine regional rail lines were slated for termination, and service would have been reduced, truncated, and slowed throughout the system. Now, though, SEPTA will receive about 69% of the $340M of new money designated for mass transit, and crisis has been averted.
Though there's cause for relief, celebration isn't exactly in order. SEPTA's General Manager, oe Casey explains:
"Right now at $300 million, we're spending about a third of what similar size agencies [spend], so this will get us to two-thirds. Is it 100 percent? No, but it certainly puts us in a much better position than we would have been." That means that, while SEPTA will be able to repair and maintain existing infrastructure, changes won't be visible or sexy. When asked if riders would notice changes and improvements, Mr. Casey said, "That's going to be difficult. They'll see some stations, but a lot of stuff they won't see." He also alluded to desires for service expansion and put them to rest: "...now we finally have resources, but the first thing we have to do - and I know people want expansions here, expansions here - is fix what we have."
Though that's not the sunniest prediction for SEPTA's future, the "realignment" plan is now completely off the table. SEPTA might not be the fanciest or most cutting edge major transit system in the nation, but, as their retired slogan advertises, they're getting there.
· SEPTA no longer on brink of shrinking, state funding a 'game changer' [Plan Philly]
· SEPTA Needs Dollars, Or You'll Need a Car [Plan Philly]
· SEPTA's doomsday prophecy eliminates 9 regional rail lines [Plan Philly]