SEPTA says that they may be forced to cut nine regional rail lines—including the Media-Elwyn line—and shorten two more, amongst other cutbacks, if they do not receive $6.5 billion for their projects during the next decade, according to PlanPhilly.
There are estimates that the transportation authority could suffer the loss of 40.7 million trips annually, and possibly 89,000 daily transportation users, information that SEPTA shared at a Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee hearing hosted at Temple University on last week.
If SEPTA does not receive the extra $6.5 billion, they will have to close service on nine of their regional rail lines, leaving four lines operating, said SEPTA. They may also have to lessen service on the Media-Sharon Hill Lines, turn all of the trolley routes to bus routes, shorten the Norristown High Speed Line, terminate the Broad Street Line express service, and stop the Broad-Ridge Spur line.
Starting next year, SEPTA will ask for an extra $454 million, a number that will grow each year until 2019, when they will request $1 billion. After that, the amount will diminish each year until 2023 when it will be down to $453 million.
“You can only paint over cracks for so long,” said Greg Krykewycz, the manager of the Office of Transit, Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). “… The bill is finally coming due for lots and lots of maintenance over time.”
At Thursday's Media Borough Council meeting, President Brian Hall said the R3/Media-Elwyn is at the top of SEPTA's list and asked that residents contact their local legislators—Rep. Tom Killion, Sen. Ted Erickson, Sen. Dominici Pileggi and Gov. Tom Corbett—to let them know how important it is to fund SEPTA.
"Mass transit is very important to Media, not just to residents who depend upon it to get to their jobs ... but also to visitors to this town and people who come here as the county seat," Hall said. "Thousands of people come here every day by mass transit. Without mass transit, everything falls apart."
Hall said the legislators and governor need to "step up" and fund SEPTA adequately.
He also asked that borough council send a letter to legislators and Corbett requesting that the budget address the needs of SEPTA to maintain its system.
Councilman Paul Robinson said council sending a letter now is premature. He said the issue needs to be addressed but council has not had the opportunity to discuss it.
"I think there could be a time when our residents need to communicate to the elected officials but I think at this time, as we have a process, our state counterparts have a process as well," Robinson said. "And I just think this is premature."
He asked that council reconsider the option at a later time after discussing the issue as a council and with the state legislators.
However, a campaign from the residents would be an excellent idea, Robinson said, if the SEPTA funding does not progress in the right direction.
Vice President Monica Simpson said council sending a letter now is appropriate since the state budget talks begin next week.
Hall agreed to send a letter signed by himself and Media Mayor Bob McMahon rather than the entire council. Council voted 5-1 in agreement, with Robinson voting against. Councilwoman Dawn Roe was absent from the meeting.
According to Director Barry Seymour, Executive Director of DVRPC, SEPTA’s "day of reckoning" predictions call to mind PennDOT’s cautioning from several months back, when PennDOT indicated that, without additional funding, they would decrease the weight limits of up to 1,000 bridges.
The state general assembly did not settle the issue of transportation funding in the state capitol before breaking for the summer, and PennDOT subsequently decreased the weight limits on about 1,000 bridges in the state.
The SEPTA regional rail lines that may be affected:
- Cynwyd: suspended in 2014
- Media/Elwyn: suspended in 2015
- Chestnut Hill West: suspended in 2018
- Airport, Warminster, Marcus Hook/Wilmington, West Trenton, Chestnut Hill East, and Fox Chase: suspended by 2023
- Lansdale/Doylestown: shortened (at Lansdale ) in 2018
- Paoli/Thorndale : shortened (at Malvern) by 2023.
The SEPTA suburban transit that may be affected:
- Norristown High Speed Line: shortened (at Bryn Mawr) in 2016
- Sharon Hill Lines: may have reduced service in 2018, followed by a conversion to busses by 2023
The SEPTA city transit that may be affected:
- Two trolley routes: may be turned into to bus routes in 2014, and the remaining four trolley lines may be turned into bus routes in 2018
- Broad Ridge Spur: may be stopped in 2018 and
- Broad Street Subway express service: may be stopped by 2023