Posts Tagged ‘public transit agencies’

SEPTA Pauses Expansion of Norristown Line

March 19, 2023

Work on extending the Norristown High Speed Line in Philadelphia has come to a screeching halt due to lack of funding.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the four-mile extension to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is being paused after the Federal Transit Administration declined to approve a grant for the project.

A SEPTA news release also cited rising costs due to inflation and high interest rates as other factors that led to the project being halted.

In declining to provide a grant for the project the FTA said it had concerns over whether SEPTA would be able to come up with its share of the project costs.

That included covering cost overruns for the project, which has ballooned from an estimated $2.08 billion in August 2020 to $3.02 billion today.

“SEPTA’s capital budget has been underfunded for decades,” SEPTA CEO Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. “This has left the Authority with significantly fewer resources than peer agencies to pursue system expansion while also addressing critical infrastructure needs. With the funding we have currently, SEPTA must prioritize essential infrastructure work and safety and security improvements to maximize the reliability and effectiveness of our aging system.”

SEPTA said it has spent about $53 million so far on the project since 2012.

Alstom Gets Contract to Build SEPTA Trolleys

February 25, 2023

A Philadelphia public transit agency plans to buy modern trolley cars that will be fully accessible.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority awarded a $714 million contract to Alstom Transportation for the new cars, which the agency said would comply with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Alstom will build 130 cars with an option for 30 additional vehicles. Delivery of the new trolleys is scheduled to begin in 2027 with full fleet delivery by the end of 2030.

In a news release, SEPTA said the new cars will be longer and have a higher capacity than existing cars.

The new cars will have low floors and ramps, wider pathways, audio and visual messaging systems, and designated open space for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and bikes.

SEPTA Names Chief Safety Officer

January 30, 2023

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has appointed Ronald Keele as its chief safety officer.

He will lead the development, monitoring and necessary adjustment of SEPTA’s plan to “ensure a safe and healthy environment for all employees, riders, and community members,” SEPTA said in a news release.

That includes development of methods to measure the Authority’s safety performance and establish programs to routinely involve executive leadership in safety planning.

Keele comes to SEPTA from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority where he held a similar position as a safety officer.

SEPTA Signs Pact to Aid Minority Businesses

January 14, 2023

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has agreed to make it easier for minority-owned companies to do business with the public transit agency.

The 11-page agreement, which also was signed by the Chicago Transit Authority, states that businesses that gain small business enterprise certification for one of the agencies will be certified for the other agency.

SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards said during the signing ceremony that Philadelphia has a higher proportion of poorer residents than most major U.S. cities.

Therefore minority-owned businesses could benefit from the agreement, which makes it easier for them to obtain government contracts.

3 Transit Systems to Get Federal Station Improvement Grants

December 20, 2022

Public transit systems in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are among the recipients of grants from the Federal Transit Administration to be used to modernize stations and improve their accessibility.

The agencies are sharing in $686 million being awarded to 15 projects. The grant funding is coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Greater Cleveland Transit Authority will receive $8 million to rebuild its East 79th Street rapid station to make it more accessible.

The 1920s era station will receive new ramps, concrete platforms, rail crossings, warning panels, canopy-covered concrete stairs, upgraded emergency call boxes, and slip-resistant walking surfaces.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit will receive $24.4 million to make the Bethel Village, Westfield, St. Anne’s, and Shiras stations on the Red Line ADA accessible. Station improvements will include installing a high platform for level boarding, shelters on the boarding platform, ramps, accessible signage and auditory support.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $56 million to make its 11th Street subway station on the Market-Frankford Subway Line and the Chinatown, Erie, Fairmount Upper Level, Fairmount Lower Level and Snyder stations on the Broad Street Subway Line accessible.

The stations were built in the early 20th century. Work will include installing elevators, general station upgrades, ramps, and making path of travel improvements.

Worker Shortages Hindering Public Transit Agencies

November 23, 2022

Nearly all North American public transit agencies have worker shortages the American Public Transportation Association said this week.

The trade group said 96 percent of North American transit agencies responding to a survey it conducted do not have enough staff.

Eighty-four percent of agencies indicated the worker shortage is affecting their ability to provide regular service. The shortages are occurring at agencies in communities of all sizes.

“This shortage is complex, multifaceted, and connected to changes in the broader culture and economy,” said APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas. “This workforce shortage is the confluence of multiple factors and successfully responding to it will involve a comprehensive approach.”

APTA’s recommended steps to help ease the shortage in the short term includes increasing compensation, improving worker schedules, creating a positive work environment, and ensuring worker safety.

The APTA study also recommends building a resilient workforce development program.

SEPTA Releases Safety and Security Plan

October 8, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has released a plan to address safety and security concerns for those who are homelessness, and or have substance abuse and mental health issues.

In a news release SEPTA said the number of those with these issues has grown, which prompted the public transit agency to launch its Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership and Engagement  program last year.

The most recent plan lays out a strategy to confront the problems SEPTA is facing and describes what riders, employees, policymakers and local business owners can do to help.

SCOPE outreach personnel work with the SEPTA Transit Police Department, which has increased patrols on trains and at stations in recent months.

Public Transit Ridership Continues Rebound

September 30, 2022

Ridership of public transit has rebounded to 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, the American Public Transportation Association said this week.

APTA said heavy- and light-rail are both at 61 percent of 2019 ridership, while commuter rail is at 54 percent. Bus ridership is 66 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The figures reflect data reported by 130 transit agencies.

The trade group attributed the increase in ridership to higher levels of workers returning to the office rather than working from home as became widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the pandemic took root in March 2020, some transit agencies suffered immediate declines of up to 40 percent. By April 2020 transit ridership has fallen to a national average of 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Rail transit sustained higher ridership levels than bus transit, APTA officials said.

SEPTA Offering Cleanliness Survey

September 28, 2022

Riders of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses and trains now have a means to report cleanliness issues.

The Philadelphia-based transit agency said these issues can be reported by scanning a QR Code on a smartphone.

That will lead to a cleanliness survey in which users will be asked to rate the cleanliness of their bus, train or trolley.

The QR codes will be posted on a limited number of transit vehicles near exit doors. Taking the survey will take about two minutes, SEPTA officials said.

SEPTA said the information provided on the surveys will be sent to its maintenance department, which will know how long the vehicle has been in service at the time of survey completion. There is also a comments section at the end of the survey for the rider to offer additional information.

Transit Agencies Seek $129M in Emergency Aid

September 20, 2022

Public transit agencies are seeking a $129 million emergency appropriation from Congress.

The American Public Transportation Association asked for the funding last week, citing unmet funding needs of transit agencies.

Many of those needs were inflicted by harsh weather, including foods, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes.

If approved the funding would go to the Federal Transit Administration’s Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program.

That program provides funding for such things as rebuilding damaged infrastructure and replacement of vehicles destroyed by natural disasters.