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By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – SEPTA has taken a beating in its ridership and budget because of the harsh winter weather the past two months.

SEPTA’s chief financial officer Richard Burnfield reports to the board that the transit agency went from a balanced budget for the first six months of the fiscal year, with even a small surplus in December, to a $2.2 million deficit in January.

“Schools were closed, businesses were closed, malls were closed. Individuals could not go to doctors’ visits,” he said. “So, in January ridership was down six percent.”

And Burnfield says SEPTA spent millions of dollars more than anticipated for clearing parking lots and stations of snow and ice and saw a substantial increase in its overtime expenses.

As for February, which closes on Friday, Burnfield says it’s not looking good for the same reasons.

“February, I think, will be equally challenging,” he said. “But I tell everyone, ‘deficit’ is not in my vocabulary.”

Burnfield says he’s already taking steps to limit expenses and put off purchases to bring the budget back into balance.

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