Casey Calls On Congress to Begin Work on Long Term Transportation Bill That Could Increase Funds, Provide Certainty to SEPTA

As Congress Approaches Yet Another Budget Deadline on 9/30 and Additional Sequester Cuts Loom, Senator, MontCo Commissioner Josh Shapiro and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey Discuss Need for Comprehensive, Long Term Approach to Transportation Funding / Federal Government’s Transportation Policy Set to Be Debated In Next Year, Lack of Long Term Approach Has Squeezed Public Transit Agencies Across the Country

Casey Calls On Congress to Begin Work on Long Term Transportation Bill That Could Increase Funds, Provide Certainty to SEPTA

Philadelphia, PA- As SEPTA demonstrates need for funding to keep its service operational throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on Congress to begin work on a long-term transportation bill that could increase funds and provide more certainty to SEPTA. As Congress approaches yet another budget deadline on September 30th and with additional sequester cuts looming in the coming year, Casey was joined by Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey to discuss the need for a long-term, comprehensive approach to transportation planning on the federal level.  This approach is necessary to provide certainty for SEPTA and other public transit agencies.  The federal government’s transportation policy is set to be debated in the coming year and a series of short term bills has left agencies like SEPTA uncertain about what their funding outlook will be.

“Public transit is a major part of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s economy and it’s essential that SEPTA has the resources it needs to continue to provide safe and reliable transportation,” Senator Casey said. “Careening from one short term transportation bill to another has increased uncertainty for agencies like SEPTA. Congress should begin work now on a long-term transportation bill that allows public agencies to plan into the future. A comprehensive and long-term approach to transportation can create jobs and improve economic growth.”

In 2012, SEPTA's total ridership hit a 23-year record at 339.3 million passenger trips. Across the entire SEPTA system, total ridership has grown annually by an average of 1.9% -- total annual trips have grown by 40 million since 2006.  This continuous growth provides further evidence of the need for a long-term federal investment in mass transit. 

The text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Chairman
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

The Honorable David Vitter
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

The Honorable Bill Shuster
Chairman
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

The Honorable Nick Ra hall
Ranking Member
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman
Senate Committee on Finance

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Finance

The Honorable Dave Camp
Chairman
House Committee on Ways and Means

The Honorable Sander M. Levin
Ranking Member
House Committee on Ways and Means

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

I write to urge you to begin work on a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that will provide stability to our states, municipalities, industry partners and transit agencies.  At the end of September, we will be just one year away from the expiration of MAP-21. Congress therefore needs to spend time now developing solutions that will allow for the passage of a six­ year reauthorization bill.

Investing in our transportation system is a proven way to create jobs in the short-term and promote economic growth over the long-term.  Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's job calculation models, every $1 billion in federal transit funding that is matched by state and local investments supports 37,500 jobs through all sectors of the economy.

In the highway realm, every $1 billion in federal highway funding that is similarly matched supports 34,779 jobs.

We need to build off of the successes of MAP-21 and continue to invest in our nation's aging infrastructure which is essential to our long-term economic competitiveness.  As transit agencies face shrinking contributions from states and municipalities, we need to provide consistent federal funding.  Failure to do so could result in cuts to routes that commuters depend upon and, ultimately, job losses.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) is the nation's sixth largest transportation agency and serves over 500,000 passengers on a daily basis in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  SEPTA relies on formula funding under MAP-21 to cover over half of its capital budget. Steady investment from the federal government is needed to keep its infrastructure in a state of good repair and replace buses and rail cars that have outlived their functional lives.

In order to fund a long-term reauthorization bill, we need to identify ways to finance the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that provides funding for road projects and mass transit.  If left alone, the HTF will become insolvent by 2015. This outcome will have a detrimental impact on jobs that will have a lasting effect on our economy.  Specifically, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, tens of thousands of direct jobs, as well as countless numbers of indirect jobs, could be lost in my home state if the trust fund becomes insolvent.  I stand ready to work with you all to identify a package of bi-partisan solutions that will address the funding shortfall that Highway Trust Fund is facing.

A series of extensions of MAP-21 would only cause further uncertainty to transit agencies like SEPTA.  I look forward to working with you to develop and pass a long term reauthorization bill.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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