SEPTA Future Operations in Jeopardy From Pandemic Funding Loss

David Bjorkgren
Image via SEPTA Facebook page.

SEPTA is reporting a $350 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2021 as it loses about $1 million a day in revenue, writes Kennedy Rose for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“We’ll be faced with some really tough decisions starting next year as to what we’re looking at in terms of how we can continue to operate a service and what changes we can make to continue to operate our system with the resources we will have available,” said Richard Burnfield, SEPTA’s deputy general manager.

SEPTA is considering cutting service lines, closing stations, and raising fares.

Its $1.53 billion operating budget comes from passenger revenues and state subsidies.

More than 20 million passengers were riding SEPTA each month before the pandemic.  Ridership dropped 90 percent in April and May. It could take until the end of 2022 to get close to pre-pandemic levels again.

SEPTA’s been using federal CARES Act funding to cover revenue loss through Oct. 24 but it’s expected those funds will be depleted by the end of 2021.

There’s also a funding decline from PennDOT public transit funds.

Ridership did pick up slightly in the last eight months as restrictions eased.

Read more about SEPTA’s financial difficulties at the Philadelphia Business Journal.

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