SEPTA Board approves the authority’s operating and capital budgets

A divided SEPTA Board approved the authority’s operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2011, as well as a slate of fare and tariff increases that will go into effect July 1.

Daniel J. Kubik and Thomas E. Babcock, Delaware County’s two board members, voted against the proposals. The final vote was 10-2.

The capital budget passed unanimously, though SEPTA faces a capital funding shortfall beginning in July thanks to the state’s failure to toll Interstate 80. Both Kubik and Babcock left immediately after the vote, without explaining their opposition, and couldn’t be reached for comment. When asked about the reasons for Babcock and Kubik’s dissenting votes, SEPTA general manager Joe Casey referred questions to them. Reached by The Philadelphia Inquirer after the meeting, Kubik declined to comment.

At a SEPTA Board committee hearing last week ( on the proposal, Babcock expressed skepticism over the structure of the authority’s proposed fare increases. He expressed concerns that SEPTA’s plans to keep the cash fare steady at $2 while raising the price of TransPasses could discourage TransPass use.

Three SEPTA Board members were not in attendance, including the city’s two representatives: Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities, and Beverly Coleman. Charles H. Martin of Bucks County was also not present.

Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said that Cutler and Coleman were absent for “personal reasons” and were “fully supportive” of the budget proposals and fare increases. He added that their absences weren’t meant to send any kind of message about the proposals. Cutler and Nutter submitted a letter in support of the operating budget and fare increases to an independent hearing examiner during his review of the budget.

With these votes, fares will increase between 6 and 8 percent, on average, system-wide. The cash transfer fare will increase to $1 from 75 cents, and regional rail weekly and monthly pass holders will see, on average, a larger fare increase than TransPass users. Before the vote, Tony DeSantis, president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, again voiced his group’s objections to the fare proposal.

DVARP wanted SEPTA to raise the cash fare to $2.25 and keep the transfer price steady. It also opposed the elimination of midday, off-peak fares for the regional rail system.

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