State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

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State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby zebrasepta » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:20 pm

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/t ... 70906.html

A budget proposal from state Republicans would be catastrophic for public transportation in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, SEPTA officials warned Wednesday.

The proposal unveiled Tuesday by a group of Pennsylvania House Republicans would force SEPTA to cut service by 40 percent and raise fares by 20 percent by January, said Rich Burnfield, SEPTA’s deputy general manager and treasurer.


Good part of this is that there is a lot of opposition
The proposal came from conservative members among House Republicans and is considered a heavy lift to get out of the House. Even if it does, GOP senators have expressed reservations, and Gov. Wolf has been critical.
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby mcgrath618 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:31 am

zebrasepta wrote:http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/septa-warns-pennsylvania-gop-budget-proposal-could-gut-public-transit-20170906.html

A budget proposal from state Republicans would be catastrophic for public transportation in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, SEPTA officials warned Wednesday.

The proposal unveiled Tuesday by a group of Pennsylvania House Republicans would force SEPTA to cut service by 40 percent and raise fares by 20 percent by January, said Rich Burnfield, SEPTA’s deputy general manager and treasurer.


Good part of this is that there is a lot of opposition
The proposal came from conservative members among House Republicans and is considered a heavy lift to get out of the House. Even if it does, GOP senators have expressed reservations, and Gov. Wolf has been critical.

Glad Wolf is at least critical of this; horrible plan made by horrible people.
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby NorthPennLimited » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:13 pm

Rather than propose an arbitrary percentage cut in funding to close the Commonwealth's budget gap, why not hire a consulting firm to look at SEPTA's operations from the ground up and see where fat can be trimmed and processes can be improved to cut costs.

On the Regional Rail Division, simple operating costs could be lowered. For example:

- Reduce mid-day train consists on low density lines to 2 cars trains to lower electricity costs, crew costs, and vehicle wear and tear.
- Store mid-day and overnight train consists with the pantographs lowered to reduce electrical load demand. What is the cost to run HVAC systems and lighting on trains that are sitting around?
- Look at headcounts on late night and off-peak trains to see if it's feasible to continue running trains with fewer than "x" number of paying passengers.
- Study the management to employee ratio to see where oversight and supervisory functions can be consolidated or streamlined. Sometimes there is efficiency and more employee accountability in large organizations when chain of command is reduced from the front line to senior and executive management positions.
- Study best practices and union contracts to reduce absenteeism due to excessive sick time and worker injuries.
- The annual financial reports show labor costs, electricity/ fuel costs, and litigation payments from injuries are the top 5 operating expenses, these are places to look at for operating cost reduction.
- See where any long term debt can be restructured while interest rates are still low.
- Increase fixed asset revenue by looking at the possibility of leasing stations to commercial real estate groups. I'm sure they could get Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts to lease space in heavy traffic stations like Lansdale, Jenkintown, Warminster, etc.

Bottom line, before politicians throw around arbitrary budget cutting numbers, they should do a little homework and investigate agencies to see if simple business cost cutting measures can be implemented. I'm all for trying to balance the state budget so our children and grandchildren don't inherit our mess, but before we start trimming fat from places like SEPTA, DRPA, PHL Airport, etc we should make sure we don't cut muscle or limbs and cripple these essential public services that could probably benefit from a little outside influence and ideas to lower operating costs and raise revenue streams.
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:11 pm

Comments on a few points (numbered in order of appearance):

1. This would almost have to be done at outlying points--not easy to do at places like Thorndale, Wilmington, Fox Chase, CHW, Trenton,and Elwyn. Apart from needed track space (leaving the cars sitting ducks for vandalism), would labor agreements require on-the ground personnel to be on hand to do the coupling and uncoupling once an hour? Also, achieving optimum equipment utilization results in swapping of pairings, so the train that left 4 cars somewhere in the morning may not be coming back there in the afternoon.

3. A very narrow, blinkered view. AM and PM rush-hour trains carry many passengers who rarely or never ride the late-night trains but won't ride in rush hours if the late trains aren't in the schedule. Hard to measure without a market survey (at whose expense?), but it's there. The absent passengers on the late-evening trains wouldn't be using the trains at all of those trains weren't there. Much the same is probably true of the midday trains.

4. Often true, and not just in railroad transportation. Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a very entertaining book about 40 or 50 years ago--called Parkinson's Law--which, among other things, illustrated how managers make work for each other.

7. I'd be very surprised if they're not doing that almost daily. I suspect that people who manage money regard it as a point of professional pride to get the best deals obtainable.
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby MACTRAXX » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:46 am

ZS: Good writeup from Jason Laughlin - just don't forget about the new Inquirer Pay Wall
that has been introduced to Philly.com...

It would be good to identify who those PA House GOP mass transit foes are...

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EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby glennk419 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:30 pm

Weren't the gas tax hikes over the last three years supposed to be targeted specifically for SEPTA? Why has that funding suddenly evaporated?
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Re: State GOP budget proposal could cut SEPTA funding

Postby Suburban Station » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:14 am

...
- "Reduce mid-day train consists on low density lines to 2 cars trains to lower electricity costs, crew costs, and vehicle wear and tear". -the savings is often eaten up by yard costs, it's cheaper to run empty trains, especially with the declining cost of power.
-"Store mid-day and overnight train consists with the pantographs lowered to reduce electrical load demand. What is the cost to run HVAC systems and lighting on trains that are sitting around?" you can't store midday trains without HVAC systems, especially during the summer, because it takes too much time and energy to get them cooled down again for passengers. a modern climate control could probably shave some dollars off by adjusting temperatures.
-"Look at headcounts on late night and off-peak trains to see if it's feasible to continue running trains with fewer than "x" number of paying passengers." yes, maybe. I might go so far as look at allowing transpass holders to use late night train service to augment buses...even better if you can cancel or truncate bus routes.
-" The annual financial reports show labor costs, electricity/ fuel costs, and litigation payments from injuries are the top 5 operating expenses, these are places to look at for operating cost reduction."-increasing passenger miles per labor hour (or rider per labor hour) seems like a reasonable goal to control costs
- "See where any long term debt can be restructured while interest rates are still low." I'd go with, see where low interest debt can finance improvements that lower operating expense. for example, paying Amtrak to remote Overbrook & Paoli or move projects that improve trip time up in the pecking order.
-" Increase fixed asset revenue by looking at the possibility of leasing stations to commercial real estate groups. I'm sure they could get Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts to lease space in heavy traffic stations like Lansdale, Jenkintown, Warminster, etc. "this is a big one. SEPTA is a horrible landlord. unresponsive and bureaucratic. Even Amtrak seems to do a better job getting retail in their stations.
NorthPennLimited wrote:Bottom line, before politicians throw around arbitrary budget cutting numbers, they should do a little homework and investigate agencies to see if simple business cost cutting measures can be implemented. I'm all for trying to balance the state budget so our children and grandchildren don't inherit our mess, but before we start trimming fat from places like SEPTA, DRPA, PHL Airport, etc we should make sure we don't cut muscle or limbs and cripple these essential public services that could probably benefit from a little outside influence and ideas to lower operating costs and raise revenue streams.

absolutely, it's always cut or fund..no one wants to improve. I would argue that looking at using buses as feeder routes to regional rail lines could save a lot of money where routes can be truncated. for example, truncating the 124 at norristown would save a lot of revenue and deadhead hours on buses.use the system to work as a whole. ticketing agreement and timed transfers with amtrak on the keystone corridor would also make sense.
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