By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The SEPTA Board is expected to pass half a budget when it meets today. It’s still waiting for funding from Harrisburg but, in the meantime, board members will vote on a $640-million spending plan to operate through December. The budget problems are marring an otherwise banner year for the transit agency.
When the 2013 fiscal year ended June 30th, SEPTA had registered more rides on its regional rail lines than any time since it began operating them: More than 36-million.
Spokeswoman Jerri Williams credits new cars, improved customer service and greater efficiency. It also set a record last year for on time service.
“People want to be able to get to work on time and they know they can do that by hopping on SEPTA,” Williams said. “Instead of maybe sitting on the Schuylkill, they’re going to choose SEPTA.”
Williams says, if not for a two-day shut-down following Superstorm Sandy, she thinks the city transit division would have set a record, too. She says SEPTA worries though that gains could be wiped out by insufficient funding.
“Although we have a 23 year high in ridership, we have a 15 year low in funding for our capital budget.”
Williams says a transportation funding bill in the state legislator is vital to SEPTA’s health.