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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said his administration is prepared to increase its investment in SEPTA by $161 million as Philadelphia’s transit system faces a budget shortfall when pandemic funds expire in July.
During his budget address Tuesday, Shapiro said nearly a million people across the state rely on public transit each day. His proposed 1.75% increase in transit funding, a $282.8 million investment, would generate nearly $1.5 billion over five years. If approved, it would be the first increase in the state’s share of public transit funding in over a decade.
Shapiro has been facing calls from local communities and federal lawmakers to increase SEPTA’s funding as it faces a $240 million shortfall. If the transit agency can’t secure that funding, Leslie Richards, SEPTA’s CEO and president, has said service could be cut by 20% and fares increased by as much as 30% this fall.
“Based on our discussions with SEPTA, if you adopt my proposal they will not cut service or raise fares, and they’ll have a concrete plan for a cleaner, safer public transit system that creates economic opportunity in southeastern Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.
However, SEPTA will have to step up on some things the governor finds lacking.
“I insisted they address concerns about cleanliness and safety — and I asked the local counties whose residents benefit from that system to meet this moment with additional support,” Shapiro said. “I can now report that SEPTA has presented plans to address cleanliness and safety, and county officials have entertained a willingness to increase their financial support.”