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As community concern mounts over possible cuts to SEPTA’s service this summer, the agency’s CEO revealed plans Thursday that could see service cut by 20% and increase fares by 30% as soon as the fall.
When federal pandemic funding ends in July, the transit agency will face a $240 million shortfall, likely leading to changes in transit service across the entire system and region.
State leaders from both major parties had hoped to supplement the losses using a state sales tax transfer that could have provided an extra $190 million for SEPTA. However, that tax did not make it into the final budget approved by Gov. Josh Shapiro.
During Thursday’s board meeting, SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards said the transit agency’s main priority is for elected officials to “understand the value of SEPTA to the economy and the people of the Philadelphia region.”
“I know many of you have made phone calls to elected officials voicing your concern, and we are so appreciative of your advocacy,” she said. “SEPTA does not want to make these cuts, especially at a time when ridership is growing. These cuts will mean crowded conditions on transit, more congestion on roadways and the loss of productivity throughout the region.”
Richards said securing state, local and federal funding is critical to the transit authority’s budget.
“Without it, service cuts and fare increases across all modes, across the entire region, are an unfortunate necessity for Fiscal Year 2025,” Richards said. “While we are hopeful that SEPTA may still secure the funds we need, we have to pull together a plan that reflects the funding that is currently available to SEPTA.”
In a story published Thursday in the Philadelphia Business Journal, Richards said SEPTA doesn’t plan on “conducting large layoffs” for employees. Currently, the transit authority has roughly 9,700 employees and about 600 vacant positions.