Unlike the operating budget hearings, which I attended all ten of, I did not attend the capital budget hearings. I didn’t really have to. I could tell you last month, and I could tell you right now, what they consisted of. Here is an abbreviated “transcript”, translated into everyday English.
SEPTA: “We have a capital budget this year of $308 million. This isn’t anything. This might cover basic repairs of our bus and rail fleet for about nine months out of twelve, if we’re fortunate. Plus some replacement buses we have to buy and were going to anyway. The Feds are forcing us to spend a sixth of the 300 mill on Positive Train Control. The rest definitely won’t pay for anything we might desperately want. Here is our list of things we can pay for. Please take note how none of them cost any money.”
Public: “Can we have things X, Y, and Z that we really want and some of which you promised us before?”
SEPTA: “No. Things X, Y, and Z cost money. To reiterate, we can’t spend any money because we don’t have any.”
Public: “This sucks. Why don’t you guys have more money?”
SEPTA: “Governor Corbett has promised to fix the problem where he isn’t giving us any money”
Public: *puts two and two together* “Governor Corbett is an asshole.”
SEPTA: *Our fear for our jobs, and the hope we have that we might succeed in getting more money, prevents us from agreeing with you.*
SEPTA: *Also, thank you for not inquiring too deeply into the list of things we’re going to quietly let fall apart because we don’t have the money to fix them. We’re already losing one bridge, and we can’t afford to look any more pathetic than we already do.*
SEPTA: *Help. Send money. Please. Help.*
I can’t believe how little money SEPTA gets in relation to other systems. The MBTA gets way more than double that, and while it’s ridden more, it’s still a huge jump. It’s pathetic how Pennsylvania treats transportation in the most economic driver in the state.
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