SEPTA Unveils Doomsday Budget Scenario: Kiss Regional Rail Goodbye?

The Inquirer reports SEPTA has “drafted a doomsday plan to eliminate 9 of its 13 rail lines and shorten two others, close a subway line, and convert trolley routes to bus lines, if the state doesn’t come up with more money for public transit this year.”


The good news: The state senate passed a bill in June that contains $510 million for mass transit—a sum that would prevent this scenario from coming into play. The bad news: That bill still hasn’t cleared the House. SEPTA GM Joe Casey told a legislative panel today it’s time to resolve the issue.

The “service realignment plan” would begin next year and continue slashing service until 2023, when the SEPTA system would be a shadow of its current self. SEPTA estimates it would lose at least 40 million passengers a year, about 12 percent of its ridership.

We mentioned recently a study that demonstrates the economic advantages to cities that have good public transit systems. Well, let’s infer what happens to Philadelphia—the Philadelphia region—if regional rail virtually disappears and much of the rest of the transit system is radically reduced: Economic devastation. And no matter what folks in Harrisburg seem to think, the Philadelphia region remains an engine of the state’s economic growth. If they want to play around with or reduce funding to SEPTA, they’re risking the state’s economic suicide. Then again, that seems to be Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan for Pennsylvania, anyway.