SEPTA Proposes Budget Increase, But No Fare Hike, for 2017

New revenue sources and lower fuel costs will help keep fares steady for a second straight year.

Septa regional rail train

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

SEPTA has published its proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2017 (PDF), which begins in June. The $1.39 billion operating budget represents an increase of $40 million, or 3.7 percent, from the fiscal 2016 budget, yet is projected to be balanced, as state law requires, largely through an equal increase in federal, state and local government subsidies, with money from the state making up the lion’s share.

The agency expects a slight rise ($788,000) in revenue from operations, with most of that coming from other revenue, as the fiscal 2017 budget contains no fare increase, representing a continued pause in what has become a practice of regular incremental fare hikes at three-year intervals. (SEPTA plans to resume the practice with the fiscal 2018 budget; the last fare hike took place in July 2013.) One of the newer sources of other revenue is the sale of power from storage batteries installed along the Market-Frankford Line to the PJM Interconnection regional power grid, a program that will expand in the years to come with the installation of additional batteries along both the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines.


The budget projects significant savings on fuel costs and claims of injury or damage in the coming year. The fuel savings come largely from replacing older diesel buses with more fuel-efficient diesel-electric hybrid buses. The $15 million in savings will partly offset a $30 million rise in labor costs and $22.9 million more in materials and services.

SEPTA’s operating costs per unlinked passenger trip (a single ride on any vehicle) have risen more slowly than the transit industry average since 2005 and have roughly tracked the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the Philadelphia region, standing slightly above the CPI in 2015.

SEPTA finished fiscal year 2015, the most recent to be completed, with a slight operating surplus after subsidies. Subsidies cover about 60 percent of the agency’s operating costs.

The agency will hold a series of public hearings to collect public comments on the budget before it is presented to the SEPTA Board for formal adoption. Two hearings will be held in each of the five counties in SEPTA’s service territory; the dates, times and locations are:

  • Bucks County: Monday, April 25, at 2 and 6 p.m. in the Pearl Buck Room of the Bucks County Free Library, 150 S. Pine St., Doylestown.
  • Philadelphia: Tuesday, April 26, at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the board room on the mezzanine level of SEPTA headquarters, 1234 Market St.
  • Delaware County: Wednesday, April 27, at 2 and 6 p.m. in the County Council Meeting Room on the first floor of the Delaware County Court House, 201 W. Front St., Media.
  • Chester County: Thursday, April 28, at 2 and 6 p.m. in the Council chambers of West Chester Borough Hall, 401 E. Gay St., West Chester.
  • Montgomery County: Friday, April 29, at 2 and 6 p.m. in the community room on the main floor of the Montgomery County Human Services Center, 1430 DeKalb Pike, Norristown.

See the full budget proposal below.

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