Pennsylvania is at a crossroads in funding its transportation needs and faces the serious challenges of rising gas prices,
energy driven economic cycles, non-conformance to EPA air quality regulations and sprawl. Despite millions allocated to local
and regional planning agencies, transportation funding for bridges, power stations and other essential transit components remains
diverted to creating un-needed infrastructure. It's time to get back on track.
PA-TEC is a narrowly focused organization dedicated to reforming transportation funding and driving investment towards rail
transportation in Pennsylvania.
To address the monumental challenges that lie before us, transit funding must be reprioritized to projects that deliver measurable results.
PA-TEC is the most aggressive advocate for reform and passenger rail service expansion in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
On November 19, 2013, after two failed votes, the PA State Legislature passed a $2.3 billion spending measure geared towards funding statewide transportation projects, including public transportation. Only $500 million of this bill goes directly to mass transit operators, such as SEPTA. Funding of the bill comes from an increase in taxes, such as the gasoline tax which will jump from 25 cents to 28 cents per gallon.
Over the past year, SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey has testified that unless the state comes up with new money, SEPTA will shut down various rail lines, as they have in the past, because of inadequate funding. What Mr. Casey doesn't mention in his testimony that past years' capital budgets funded non-critical projects such as over-built bus shelters, digital message boards, and several orders of new buses. It is noteworthy that SEPTA's elimination of passenger rail and trolley service have increased the agency's dependency on diesel spewing busses with a service life of 12 years verses rail cars which last 50 years.
The question remains as to how SEPTA will use this new revenue stream from Pennsylvania taxpayers. As with past funding bills, SEPTA holds the region's passenger rail system hostage in order to convince politicians that more funding is needed, while existing revenue sources fund non-essential projects. Since SEPTA assumed control of the railroad in 1983, they have truncated 5 rail corridors and over 75 passenger stations.
Its a given that the new transportation funding bill will not fund expansion of passenger rail service on any of the lines closed by SEPTA. However, taxpayers should remain skeptical that SEPTA's new funding will be spent on true "state of good" repair projects.
Read more on the state funding bill