SEPTA is encouraging customers, residents and other members of the public to participate in a series of virtual public hearings next week regarding proposed Operating and Capital Budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
SEPTA’s proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (https://www.septa.org/media/releases/2021/4-23-21.html) will be the subject of four hearings, with sessions on Monday, May 24, at 11 am and 6 pm, and on Tuesday, May 25, at 10 am and 4 pm. Hearings on the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program will be held on Wednesday, May 26, at 11:30 am and 5 pm. To register for any of the virtual sessions, or to submit written comments, please see the hearings notice page, https://www.septa.org/notice/, for details.
The sessions will be overseen by an Independent Hearing Examiner, who will make recommendations to the SEPTA Board before the budgets are voted on at its meeting on June 24. If approved, the budgets would go into place at the start of Fiscal Year 2022 on July 1.
Proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget
The Operating Budget funds SEPTA’s everyday expenses, such as labor, energy, fuel, cleaning and security. The proposed $1.52 Operating Budget for the upcoming year would provide funding for SEPTA to increase service levels in support of the region’s recovery from COVID-19, with no fare increases for customers. Riders would also continue to benefit from fare adjustments (https://www.septa.org/media/releases/2020/6-25-20.html) enacted during the pandemic, including one free transfer per trip on buses, subways and trolleys, free rides on all modes for children 11 and under, and new three-day passes.
SEPTA would also build on successful initiatives to enhance safety and security (https://www.septa.org/media/releases/2021/4-15-21.html) for customers and employees. And, while overall, SEPTA would reduce its headcount by not filling selected vacancies, the budget proposal would allow the authority to add up to 200 new cleaners who would be assigned to stations and vehicles. To view the full Operating Budget proposal, please visit https://planning.septa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FY2022-Capital-Budget_FY2022-2033-Capital-Program-Proposal-rev.pdf.
Proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program
The Capital Budget proposal lays out SEPTA’s vision for continuing core infrastructure improvements and advancing projects of significance for the region. At the same time, with uncertainty about long-term state funding, the plan also shows major reductions that would have to be made if long-term funding for transportation improvements is not secured in the near future.
To advance major initiatives such as Trolley Modernization, King of Prussia Rail and station accessibility projects – along with much-needed rail vehicle replacements and infrastructure work – SEPTA needs to expand its capital budget with a sustainable and bondable funding source. Thanks to funding from Pennsylvania Act 89 of 2013, SEPTA has been able to make progress on its state of good repair needs in recent years. Still, the authority’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022 of $618 million leaves SEPTA with about half of the capital funding that is available to similar peer transit agencies. And now, SEPTA faces the possibility of having to cut its capital program by one-third due to uncertainty surrounding state funding mechanisms when Fiscal Year 2023 starts on July 1, 2022. Since most capital projects are multi-year efforts, SEPTA will have to begin deferring work in Fiscal Year 2022 if there is no resolution. To view the full Capital Budget proposal, please visit https://planning.septa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FY2022-Capital-Budget_FY2022-2033-Capital-Program-Proposal-rev.pdf.