5th Square is providing the following press release in reaction to the newly-released SEPTA FY 2022-2033 Capital Budget.
April 26, 2021
For Immediate Release
SEPTA has just released its FY 2022 Capital Budget and 2022-33 12-year capital program.
5th Square is thrilled that SEPTA has prioritized critical transit riders by budgeting a 12-year investment in Trolley Modernization, totaling $203 million from FY2022 onward. 5th Square Transit member Cameron Adamez says, “This is a tremendous move by SEPTA towards equity by showing its commitment to tens of thousands of working-class riders who rely on trolleys throughout Philadelphia, and giving them hope for seeing a system that is accessible, speedy and reliable.”
5th Square also approves SEPTA’s prudent move to put nearly all Regional Rail Station parking projects on hold, which would have cost over $200 million. 5th Square Transit member Dan Trubman adds, “While temporarily pausing these parking projects is a good first step, we’d like to see SEPTA double-down on its commitment towards its ridership who cannot afford a car and who absolutely need transit to get around by making these changes permanent. We live in the 21st century, the land near transit stations can be put to far better use than personal car storage. Going forward, SEPTA needs to prioritize plans to use this land for housing or commercial corridors.”
In this budget, SEPTA has committed a substantial $40 million to its wayfinding and signage overhaul, and $25 million into Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign, which also reflect a strengthened commitment to its core transit ridership base.
However, 5th Square is disappointed in SEPTA’s continued lack of urgency in its ADA elevator installations for the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Line station, and would like to see the agency drastically quicken this timeline in light of the City of Philadelphia’s 2030 goal for full BSL/MFL accessibility.
5th Square member Ben She adds, “While we are seeing good changes in this Capital Budget with steps towards equity, SEPTA continues to reserve a plurality of its capital budget for a minority of suburban Regional Rail riders, which in 2018 only comprised 11% of total ridership. In the 12-year capital program, we found that Regional Rail has a full 31% of total funding, or $2.7 billion dedicated to it, whereas bus and rail transit comparatively gets around $3 billion despite making up 89% of total ridership. With this much investment in Regional Rail, the least SEPTA could do is make it a more affordable and frequent option for those needing a quicker alternative to city buses.”
Despite these action items, 5th Square believes SEPTA still needs to be clearer in how the capital budget line items fit within a cohesive timeline, especially the Trolley Mod and Market-Frankford car replacement programs, which span multiple years but are still not 100% funded. Improvements in communications, including candor about future budget needs, and clear long-term vision will only help SEPTA in future potential federal grant applications and long-lasting public support.
5th Square is Philly's urbanist political action committee. We formed in 2014 to support candidates for local elected office who are committed to policy change in the areas of transportation, land use, and public space, and to advance a vision for a more accessible, sustainable, equitable Philadelphia for all residents.