The Keystone: Shapiro proposes $282 million plan to fund SEPTA, other public transit

By Sean Kitchen

January 29, 2024

Philadelphia area residents who rely on public transportation may face fare increases and service cuts if Pennsylvania lawmakers cannot agree on SEPTA funding. The transit agency faces a $240 million shortfall in 2024.

It’s a little more than one week until Gov. Josh Shapiro delivers his second budget address, but that isn’t stopping his administration from highlighting key policy proposals ahead of time. 

The Shapiro administration announced on Monday that his 2024-25 budget proposal will include the commonwealth’s first increase in public transportation funding in over a decade. Shapiro is calling for  a $282.8 million increase in public transit funding and asking for an additional $1.5 billion in new state funding over the next five years. 

“Hundreds of thousands of people across our Commonwealth rely on public transit every day to 

commute to work, go to school, and get to where they need to go – and Pennsylvanians deserve clean, safe, cost-effective ways to travel throughout our cities and towns,” Shapiro said in a statement. 

“That’s true all across our Commonwealth, whether you’re traveling to work in Philadelphia on SEPTA or you’re a student in Pittsburgh using PRT to get to school. Investing in and improving our public transit systems is a commonsense way to create good-paying jobs, spur economic development, and help Pennsylvanians reach their destinations safely.”

The proposed increase in public transit funding comes at a time when the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), which serves Philadelphia and the five collar counties, is faced with a $240 million budget shortfall. Residents who rely on the transit authority will be faced with steep fare increases and drastic service cuts if the shortfall cannot be fixed. 

US Sen. John Fetterman, along with US Sen. Bob Casey and US Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging the Biden Administration to continue investing in SEPTA with the shortfall looming.

The letter came one month after the Pennsylvania General Assembly finished the 2023-24 budget, but failed to include a $295 million increase in public transit funding, with $190 million going to SEPTA. 

“We are at a critical juncture for transit in the Philadelphia region. Without strong, sustained federal support, Pennsylvanians risk losing transit access entirely,” wrote the Pennsylvania members. 

“However, we shouldn’t set the bar so low – Pennsylvanians deserve a world-class transit system that is efficient, fast, safe, and comprehensive. As the Department of Transportation continues its critical work, [we] urge you to prioritize SEPTA and Pennsylvania’s transit systems.”