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Winter Weather Takes Big Bite Out Of SEPTA’s Budget

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Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As we continue to move through winter, budget impacts on agencies like SEPTA are beginning to be felt and so far, it’s in the millions of dollars.

It’s been a long winter for SEPTA riders.

Joe Greevy says, “My bus is all over the place, sometimes its ten minutes early, sometimes its ten minutes late, sometimes it doesn’t even show up.”

A cold snap after a nice weekend meant riders were bundled up again Wednesday, wary of any more snow.

Anthony Johnson adds, “Bus drivers have done I think a really poor job of getting out to the customers.  Not happy at all.”

But if you think only riders are sick of winter, think again.

“A long and expensive winter.”

Richard Barnfield is SEPTA’s chief financial officer.  He says this winter hasn’t been easy for two reasons.  First revenue is down, January saw a 6 percent drop in ridership, equal to a million dollar loss in revenue.  Plus, all the salting and plowing had driven up expenses.

Barnfield says, “We ended the month with a $2.2 million deficit.”

And that makes balancing the agency’s budget that much harder.

“Well we’ll be looking for tweaks throughout the organization where I can save money.”

That could mean slower hiring, cuts to employee overtime, or even delaying capital purchases.  But dealing with the snow is not something you can avoid, budget constraints or not.

“You have to do what you have to do and make up for it during the rest of the fiscal year.”

And those figures are only through January, but the month of February will likely be worse for their bottom line.

SEPTA officials say the deficit they are facing right now will only get larger.

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