SEPTA announced a proposed $1.61 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes fare enhancements designed to boost ridership post-COVID and allows for the expansion of SEPTA Key Advantage, the Authority’s new institutional pass program.
There will be four virtual public hearings about the budget, with sessions on May 16 at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and May 18 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The SEPTA Board will consider the proposal at its June meeting. If approved, it will go into effect with the start of Fiscal Year 2023 on July 1.
SEPTA’s Operating Budget funds the everyday expenses of running the system, such as labor, energy, fuel, cleaning, and security. Federal COVID relief funding is projected to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2024. Beyond that, SEPTA said it would continue to use state and local subsidies to balance the budget, including dipping into Service Stabilization Funds once federal COVID relief funding expires.
“We are optimistic heading into the new fiscal year, but we also continue to face difficult challenges,” said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA GM/CEO. “This budget proposal reflects the ways that SEPTA is doing its part to provide safe, reliable, equitable, and sustainable transit to our region as we continue to move through this recovery.”
Under the proposal, there would be a new “Neighborhood FleX DayPass”, intended for riders traveling shorter distances on Regional Rail. The pass would cost $10, and it could be used for up to 10 rides on buses, subways, trolleys, and up to any Zone 2 Regional Rail stations for a single day.
The existing One Day Independence Pass would be renamed the “Anywhere FleX DayPass”. The price would remain $13, and it would still be valid for up to 10 rides on buses, subways, trolleys, and all Regional Rail stations for a single day.
For both the Neighborhood FleX DayPass and Anywhere FleX DayPass, there would be a 10% discount for a bundle purchase of three passes, which could be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days.
There would be no fare increases, and riders will continue to benefit from fare adjustments enacted during the pandemic, including one free transfer per trip on Transit modes and free rides for children 11 and under.
In addition, select fares would decrease, including the One Day Convenience Pass from $9 to $6, and the Three Day Convenience Pass from $18 to $15.
The Operating Budget proposal also reflects several initiatives SEPTA has launched as part of its first-ever Efficiency and Accountability Program. This effort includes a look at all facets of SEPTA’s operation to determine what practices can be improved upon to operate more efficiently and enhance the employee and customer experience.
The proposed Operating Budget accounts for excessive inflation, with budget-wide impacts like material costs and fuel prices; rising insurance premiums; ongoing COVID-related expenses; and increasing vacancies in the budgeted headcount.
SEPTA will unveil its proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget and 12-Year Program next week.