July 8: Preservation Tax Credit Saved | Cigarette Tax Still in Limbo | 30th St’s High Amtrak Ridership | Another Building Collapse | Philly’s Red Tape | Connecting the Circuit

While other advocacy groups across the state nervously wait for the budget minutiae to trickle out of Harrisburg, preservationists can unclench a bit – the PA Senate ended up rejecting a House bill that would have eliminated funding for the Historic Preservation Tax Credit and raided the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.  

But “it’s not over until it’s over,” cautions state Senator Anthony Williams, as the $2-a-pack cigarette tax, state programs aplenty, and really the whole budget, remain in legislative purgatory.  The state Senate still has to pass the fiscal code and municipal code (which contains the cigarette tax enabling legislation) along with the actual budget. Governor Tom Corbett is still holding out for something resembling a win he can run on this fall, and he is considering not signing, or even vetoing, the budget. This is purely a political strategy question though – if Corbett does nothing the budget takes effect on Friday.

Philly’s 30th Street Station has the 3rd highest Amtrak ridership in the country, says Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, after NYC and DC. Together, the three make up half the Amtrak ridership in the country. As the fate of Philadelphia’s economy is increasingly tied to New York and Washington, time and price cuts for trips between these cities can’t come soon enough. Back in 2011, local transit blogger Steve Stofka offered some smart thoughts on cheaper ways to increase Amtrak speeds in and around Philly in response to the new Amtrak plan.

Another (partial) building collapse happened yesterday, this time with two attached rowhomes in West Philly. The party wall collapsed between the two buildings. Newsworks says there was no history of code violations or complaints. The city is still investigating the cause.

The Economist looks to Philadelphia as an example of a city with difficult-to-comply-with small business regulations, describing the plight of an architect who discovered designing a simple front stoop for a client required him “to get maps from gas, electric, water and other utilities to ensure the stoop would not disturb their underground lines and then resubmit his application. A process he thought would take a day took more than two weeks.” This isn’t the only case where fragmented ownership of all the different infrastructure under the streets creates problems in Philly.

E-hailing taxi app Uber keeps the pressure on Pennsylvania’s Public Utilities Commission for an emergency permit application to run experimental service, leveraging statements of support from users.

Big day for bike advocates as Connect the Circuit – the ambitious plan to complete a 720-mile bike trail around the Philadelphia region has officially added thirty miles of trails since the project began two years ago, bringing the total to 275 miles.  

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