As Congress approaches yet another budget deadline on September 30 and with additional sequester cuts looming in the coming year, Casey was joined by Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey to discuss the need for a long-term, comprehensive approach to transportation planning on the federal level.
"Public transit is a major part of Southeastern Pennsylvania's economy and it's essential that SEPTA has the resources it needs to continue to provide safe and reliable transportation," Sen. Casey said. "Careening from one short term transportation bill to another has increased uncertainty for agencies like SEPTA. Congress should begin work now on a long-term transportation bill that allows public agencies to plan into the future. A comprehensive and long-term approach to transportation can create jobs and improve economic growth."
In 2012, SEPTA's total ridership hit a 23-year record at 339.3 million passenger trips. Across the entire SEPTA system, total ridership has grown annually by an average of 1.9 percent; total annual trips have grown by 40 million since 2006. This continuous growth provides further evidence of the need for a long-term federal investment in mass transit.
In a letter to Congress, Sen. Casey wrote, "We need to build off of the successes of MAP-21 and continue to invest in our nation's aging infrastructure, which is essential to our long-term economic competitiveness. As transit agencies face shrinking contributions from states and municipalities, we need to provide consistent federal funding. Failure to do so could result in cuts to routes that commuters depend upon and, ultimately, job losses.
"In order to fund a long-term reauthorization bill, we need to identify ways to finance the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that provides funding for road projects and mass transit. If left alone, the HTF will become insolvent by 2015. This outcome will have a detrimental impact on jobs that will have a lasting effect on our economy. Specifically, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, tens of thousands of direct jobs, as well as countless numbers of indirect jobs, could be lost in my home state if the trust fund becomes insolvent. I stand ready to work with you all to identify a package of bi-partisan solutions that will address the funding shortfall that HTF is facing. A series of extensions of MAP-21 would only cause further uncertainty to transit agencies like SEPTA. I look forward to working with you to develop and pass a long term reauthorization bill."