SEPTA today released a proposed $1.61 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023. This proposal includes fare enhancements designed to boost ridership post-COVID and allows for the expansion of SEPTA Key Advantage, the Authority’s new institutional pass program.
There will be four virtual public hearings about the budget, with sessions on May 16 at 10 am and 4 pm, and May 18 at 11 am and 6 pm. The SEPTA Board will consider the proposal at its June meeting. If approved, it will go into effect with the start of Fiscal Year 2023 on July 1.
SEPTA’s Operating Budget funds the everyday expenses of running the system, such as labor, energy, fuel, cleaning, and security. Federal COVID relief funding is providing critical operating assistance, but those funds are projected to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2024. Beyond that, SEPTA would continue to use state and local subsidies to balance the budget, including dipping into Service Stabilization Funds once federal COVID relief funding expires.
“We are optimistic heading into the new fiscal year, but we also continue to face difficult challenges,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “This budget proposal reflects the ways that SEPTA is doing its part to provide safe, reliable, equitable, and sustainable transit to our region as we continue to move through this recovery.”
Under the proposal, there would be a new “Neighborhood FleX DayPass”, intended for riders traveling shorter distances on Regional Rail. The pass would cost $10, and it could be used for up to 10 rides on buses, subways, trolleys, and up to any Zone 2 Regional Rail stations for a single day.
The existing One Day Independence Pass would be renamed the “Anywhere FleX DayPass”. The price would remain $13, and it would still be valid for up to 10 rides on buses, subways, trolleys, and all Regional Rail stations for a single day.
For both the Neighborhood FleX DayPass and Anywhere FleX DayPass, there would be a 10 percent discount for a bundle purchase of three passes, which could be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days.
- Neighborhood FleX DayPass: $10
Buses, subways, trolleys, and up to any Zone 2 Regional Rail
- Anywhere FleX DayPass: $13
Buses, subways, trolleys, and all Regional Rail
There would be no fare increases, and riders will continue to benefit from fare adjustments enacted during the pandemic, including one free transfer per trip on Transit modes and free rides for children 11 and under.
In addition, select fares would decrease, including the One Day Convenience Pass from $9 to $6, and the Three Day Convenience Pass from $18 to $15.
SEPTA would build on successful initiatives to enhance safety and security for customers and employees. The Authority would invest in the expansion of its “Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership & Engagement” (SCOPE) Program to help with outreach to members of the vulnerable population who seek refuge on the system, as well as a new program launching soon that assigns ambassadors to stations and vehicles along the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines.
The Operating Budget proposal also reflects several initiatives SEPTA has launched as part of its first-ever Efficiency and Accountability Program. This effort includes a comprehensive look at all facets of SEPTA’s operation to determine what practices can be improved upon to operate more efficiently and enhance the employee and customer experience, while others may produce significant cost reductions that position the authority for a sustainable future. For example, SEPTA is implementing a fleetwide efficiency initiative on its buses that will result in nearly 5 percent fuel savings per bus based on the results of a pilot program, totaling more than $1 million in annual cost savings at current market prices.
Other investments include:
- Adoption of a comprehensive Information Technology (IT) master plan
- Development of improved communication tools, such as an upgraded website and mobile app
- Expansion of Human Resources recruitment and retention efforts to address vacancies
- Creation of a new Equity and Inclusion Division
- Continued planning efforts to support SEPTA Forward: A Vision for a Stronger Future, SEPTA’s five-year Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2021 through 2026
The proposed Operating Budget accounts for excessive inflation, with budget-wide impacts like material costs and fuel prices; rising insurance premiums; ongoing COVID-related expenses; and increasing vacancies in the budgeted headcount.
Next week, SEPTA will unveil its proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program. The proposed Capital Budget will be a record-breaking plan – the first to break the billion-dollar mark – and will lay out the Authority’s vision for continuing core infrastructure improvements and advancing projects of significance for the region.
To read the full Operating Budget proposal, visit https://planning.septa.org/reports/. For details on the virtual public hearings, visit https://www.septa.org/notice/.