SEPTA budget draws praise, no boos, at Philly public hearing

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Despite ongoing negotiations over a contract for SEPTA workers, only a handful of people turned out Tuesday for a public hearing on the SEPTA budget in Philadelphia.

The hearing examiner struck his gavel just about an hour after starting the hearing, which covered a series of minor services changes and modifications to schedules.

The transit agency is striving to improve service over the next year, said Steve D’Antonio of SEPTA.

“The goals being recommended are 80 percent on time for surface transit, 90 percent for regional rail lines, and 95 percent for the Market-Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown High Speed Lines,” he said.

Achieving that goal would put SEPTA in line with national on-time standards for trains.

Lorraine Brill of the Delaware Valley Citizens Transit Committee urged SEPTA to be more responsive.

“SEPTA staff needs to listen to the SEPTA Citizens Advisory Committee, SEPTA transit riders, other transit groups, SEPTA workers who know what needs to be corrected and local community groups who know what transit is needed in their neighborhoods,” Brill said.

No fare hikes are planned for the next year, but after SEPTA’s new smart card fare collection system goes on line, the base fare for city riders will increase to $2.50.

SEPTA’s proposed operating budget for the budget year beginning July 1 is $1.33 billion, an increase of approximately 3 percent over this year.

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