One of the projects SEPTA was able to undertake with the ACT 89 funding is the replacement of the Crum Creek Viaduct on its Media/Elwyn Regional (commuter) Rail Line.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was passed by Congress on Dec. 3 and signed into law by President Obama
on Dec. 4, 2015 will provide essential, long-term federal funding for critical transportation needs — $305 billion over five years.
With more money from the federal level, transit agencies will be able to make crucial infrastructure fixes, replace vehicles and possibly dust off “wish list” improvements projects long-shelved due to lack of capital. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) knows what a difference government support of public transportation can make.
“Two years ago, we had a $5 billion state-of-good-repair backlog that was estimated to grow to at least $6.5 billion by 2023 without additional capital funding,” said SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel. “We had been experiencing record ridership, especially on our Regional [commuter] Rail lines, but without money for infrastructure repairs and aging vehicle replacement, the authority would have been forced to implement a drastic Service Realignment Plan that would have greatly downsized the SEPTA rail network over 10 years.”
Fortunately for riders in the five-county Greater Philadelphia Region served by SEPTA, the authority did not have to enact its “Doomsday” plan. In Nov. 2013, the bipartisan Pennsylvania state legislature passed Act 89, providing $2.3 billion for the Commonwealth’s transit systems and highways. SEPTA projected that within five years of Act 89’s passing, the authority’s annual Capital Budget would exceed $600 million — more than double the $300 million annual amount SEPTA had available for improvements in each of four years prior to the legislation.
SEPTA is replacing this 925-foot-long, 100-foot-high bridge, which was originally constructed in 1895 and repaired in 1983.Photo: SEPTA
“We were ready to put our new funding to use immediately,” said Knueppel. “We had basic infrastructure projects that would preserve the safety of our system ready to go — all we needed was the capital.”
In December 2013, SEPTA unveiled its aggressive new capital campaign, now known as “Rebuilding the Future.” “Now we’re using funds to make sure the ‘Doomsday’ plan doesn’t come true,” said Knueppel.
“This is an exciting time for our organization, our riders and our region,” Knueppel added. “We are not just replacing infrastructure and vehicles in kind; we are doing our projects with safety, customer experience and capacity enhancements in mind.”
Congress’ passage of the FAST Act will help SEPTA continue its capital improvements programs for the foreseeable future. “We are fortunate to be represented in Congress by members who recognize the important role of public transportation,” said Knueppel. “Investing in infrastructure and new vehicles enhances service for SEPTA’s more than 1.1 million daily riders and is critical to the region’s economic competitiveness.”
Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
After acts of terrorism — domestic or international — law enforcement agencies are almost always asked: “How are you ‘ramping up’ your security efforts?” “The public may see more police officers, including K-9 units, on patrol at our train stations, transportation hubs and on the street following incidents like those that took place in New York and New Jersey in September, but we are always on heightened alert,” said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel.
Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent buying buses and railcars every year. Although the national unemployment rate has declined since the Great Recession, for low-income families and communities of color, the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits and good, family-supporting jobs can’t come fast enough. We need strategies that revive U.S. manufacturing and other industries that can create the kind of jobs we want.
The recently adjourned 2016 Democratic National Convention put Philadelphia in the national — and international — spotlight once again. For the third time in four years, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority transported thousands of visitors to the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding counties. As with the U.S. Open in 2013 and the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in 2015, public transit was a key component for all event activities.
Everywhere, evidence reveals how we’re moving into a less-consumptive, sharing-based society. Whether it’s people’s homes, torrent files or a car ride downtown, sharing is in. As environmentally conscious and economically prudent reducers and re-users, millennials are choosing non-traditional forms of transportation. This behavior has already had a huge impact on the way the transit industry is planning for its future.
How do you replace the institutional knowledge and subject expertise of a 40-year employee? You do it through succession planning, which is especially necessary in the transportation industry where senior level managers often have well over 25 years’ experience.