The math of SB1: Pick up your damn phone

OK, this post is now 48 hours overdue, but mostly because I have no idea what is going on with Majority Leader Turzai’s sudden move to bring the SB1 transportation funding bill to the floor of the House. And as far as I can tell, nobody who knows is talking.

But here’s what I do know: SB1 is projected to bring in an additional $2.5B/year in transportation revenue, which works out to about $400M/year to SEPTA. In a comment on another message board, I ran the numbers:

$400M/year is $4B over ten years, which is the doomsday plan horizon.

From Jeff Knueppel’s presentation slides on unfunded capital needs to the SEPTA board:

Bridges and tunnels round to $1.3B
Power is another $0.6B
Shops are another $0.3B
Track is another $0.7B

That gets us to $2.9B. We still haven’t bought vehicles.

Current budgeting for replacement LRVs is $1.0B and the Silverliner VIs are $1.4B. One of those is more urgent and fits in the budget presented. Goodbye, Silverliner VIs.

That leaves $100M over 10 years for overruns, rounding errors, business cycle risk, PTC-style federal mandates, and Everything Else. If that money actually exists, you might be able to split that 50/50 between a new electric loco fleet, and overhauls of the [coaches], which means you can keep the push-pulls running and providing meager but adequate service on your four-line Regional Rail system, but you still lose the other nine lines when the Silverliner IVs retire.

Oh, right, and there are no improvements, no expansions.

Anybody want to check my math here?

There’s been rumors that Democrats in the House are going wobbly on SB1 because they expect Turzai to pull a fast one, or because they think they can get a better deal done in 2015. SEPTA cannot wait for 2015. If you are calling your state Rep, do so regardless of their party affiliation, and insist that half a loaf now is better than no loaf for eighteen months.

It’s go time. Start calling and e-mailing your PA State Reps. Right now. If you don’t know who your State Rep is or how to contact them, that’s what this link is for. Time to move.

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