Posts Tagged ‘Public transit’

SEPTA Budget Tops $1B Mark

July 1, 2022

The governing board of Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has approved an operating and capital budget that is the largest in the agency’s history.

In a news release, SEPTA said it was the first time the agency’s budget has exceeded the billion-dollar mark.

Among the $1.16 billion in capital projects to be funded are King of Prussia Rail, trolley modernization and rail-fleet replacements under state of good repair initiatives. The Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines will be fully accessible for disabled people by 2034.

The agency said the $1.61 billion operating budget contains no fare increases and features fare-related efforts aimed at increasing ridership that faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those efforts include the new $10 Neighborhood FleX DayPass, which is intended for short-distance riders on regional rail systems. The pass program will begin in the fall and can be used for up to 10 rides on subways, trolleys, Zone 2 Regional Rail trains and buses.

The budget also includes the expansion of the SEPTA Key Advantage, a new institutional pass program for universities, hospitals and local businesses.

SEPTA will retain such pandemic-era benefits as one free-transfer per trip on all transit modes and free rides for young children. Select fares will be reduced starting July 1.

Agency Renamed Pittsburgh Regional Transit

June 10, 2022

The Pittsburgh public transit agency has rebranded itself as Pittsburgh Regional Transit.

Formerly known as the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the agency said the name change better reflects what it does.

“For decades, the name Port Authority has led people to jokingly ask where the boats are, so to have a name and brand that reflects the agency and its work is significant,” said Jeffrey W. Letwin, Chair of the 11-member PRT governing board.

“Our new name acknowledges that we’re not just part of the community; the community is a part of us,” said PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman.

Officials said they intend for the acronym to be pronounced not by its letters but as “part.”

The Port Authority established a unified public transit system in March 1964 through the consolidation of 33 private transit carriers, many of which had been in were in dire financial straits since 1959.

The new identity will be phased in over the next year with schedules, brochures, the website and signs redesigned in stages. Transit vehicle will receive decals and a wholly new design as they are purchased.

PRT officials said there will be no changes in fares or services.

The agency has 2,600 employees and operates light rail, bus, incline (Monongahela and Duquesne) and paratransit services serving 60 million riders a year.

The 26.2-mile light rail network serves 27 stations from downtown Pittsburgh.

Transit Agencies Receive TOD Grants

June 8, 2022

Two Ohio public transit agencies are being awarded grants through a Federal Transit Administration program for new services or to restore services suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency said it is awarding $25 million in grants made available by the American Rescue Plan Act.

In Ohio, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority will receive $210,000 to study and develop an operations plan for new service with bus stop planning, coordination of core service in corridors to facilitate safer transfers between routes.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (GoMetro) will receive $780,100 to plan for and develop new Bus Rapid Transit corridors, which will improve service and reliability, in particular for low-income riders and those living in disadvantaged communities.

Three Pennsylvania public transit agencies also will receive funding.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County will receive $780,100 to perform a bus network study which will evaluate the existing network to determine how to most effectively restore service for low-income and other disadvantaged populations as well as account for new trends in mobility following COVID-19.

The Centre Area Transportation Authority based in State College will receive $205,000 to conduct a study on current operations of existing services and make recommended changes that will increase ridership and overall transit experience for its riders.

The study is intended to determine how CATA can fully integrate its transportation services in order to provide enhanced mobility to seniors, low-income, and working families through efficiencies and enhanced routing.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia, will receive $500,000 to identify, study, and develop transportation improvements for the North Philadelphia West neighborhood between 18th and 33rd Street, and Lehigh and Girard Avenue, an area of roughly two square miles. This area is served by nine bus routes, with service concentrated on seven primary transit corridors.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the Transit Authority of River City will receive $780,100 to conduct a system wide analysis of its post-pandemic transit needs and to identify how resources can be better allocated to serve its riders, especially low income and disadvantaged communities. In Flint, Michigan, the Mass Transportation Authority will receive $260,000 to conduct a route planning restoration study of its 14 fixed, primary routes with the goal of increasing ridership, improving service delivery, and better understanding the changing needs in the post COVID-19 community.

Cleveland RTA Promotes Agency Executive

May 26, 2022

Janet Burney is being promoted to deputy general manager and legal affairs/general counsel by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Burney has more than 40 years of experience in private- and public-sector law. The appointment is effective July 31.

Before coming to RTA in 2012, Burney served as a judge in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas-Juvenile Division. She also once served as chief assistant director of law for the city of Cleveland.

SEPTA Outlines Options for Regional Rail

May 26, 2022

The Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has released three options for improving its regional rail network.

In a news release, SEPTA said the options are part of its strategic plan to envision regional rail as part of a lifestyle network of frequent, all-day and all-week services that connects people to a range of destinations across the region.

The options were developed after surveying current, past and potential riders as well as operators, staff and other stakeholders.

The options include focusing on consistent service throughout the network, providing service every 30 minutes; focusing on more frequent service (every 15 minutes) in some areas of the system where demand supports it; focusing on faster and integrated service across agencies, providing express services across the system all day.

The next step in the project is to gather public views on the three options this summer and fall.

Those views will be used to create a vision for the future of the regional rail system and develop a plan to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions, SEPTA said.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SEPTA regional rail handled 132,000 riders daily. SEPTA officials said their research found that even before the pandemic began many would-be riders chose to use other SEPTA services for a variety of reasons, including high fares for commuter trains, infrequent service and lack of accessibility.

FTA to Award TOD Pilot Program Grants

May 26, 2022

The Federal Transit Administration is accepting applications for a pilot program of transit-oriented planning grants.

The agency said it will provide $13 million in the grants during the current federal fiscal year. Applications are being accepted through July 25, 2022.

In a news release FTA said the grants provide “funding to communities to integrate land use and transportation planning in new fixed guideway and core capacity transit project corridors.”

Applicants must show how a grant will be used to improve economic development and ridership potential, foster multimodal connectivity and accessibility, improve transit access for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, engage the private sector, identify infrastructure needs, and enable mixed-use development near transit stations.

The FTA said that to ensure that planning work “reflects the needs and aspirations of the local community and results in concrete, specific deliverables and outcomes,” transit project sponsors must partner with entities with land use planning authority in the project corridor. Only one application per transit capital project corridor may be submitted.

SEPTA Seeks Upgrade of Regional Rail Network

May 20, 2022

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has begun the second phase of a project to improve its regional rail services with the goal of making them more useful.

In a news release, SPETA said it is working toward three goals, including providing consistent service every 30 minutes throughout the network; offering more frequent service (every 15 minutes) in some areas with higher demand; and offering faster and integrated services across all agencies, providing express services all day.

As part of the project SEPTA is offering a virtual questionnaire that asks riders about their travel habits and suggests a scenario based on that information.

The information gathered will be used to implement plans later this year.

The project is part of the SEPTA Forward initiative that seeks to transform the agency’s transit services into a “lifestyle transit network” that would provide all-day, all-week frequent service to riders, officials said.

SEPTA Seeks Proposals for Rail Line Design

May 13, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has issued a request for proposals for the final design phase of its King of Prussia rail project.

SEPTA has budgeted $390 million for the project in its proposed fiscal year 2023 capital budget and 12-year program. The agency’s governing board will vote on the budget proposal in June.

The agency said that the design work is part of requirements that must be met to seek federal funding.

The project would extend the Norristown high-speed rail line four miles into King of Prussia.

In a news release SEPTA said the extension once completed will connect Center City Philadelphia, University City and King of Prussia, the three largest employment hubs in the region.

Most Transit Agencies are Mask Optional Now

May 13, 2022

Most public transit agencies have made optional the wearing of a facial mask while aboard buses and trains.

A story posted on the website of Progressive Railroading this week noted that New York City is one notable exception.

Most transit agencies dropped the mask rule after a federal judge in Florida invalidated the U.S. Centers for Disease Control federal mask mandate.

The mandate was first imposed in January 2021 and had been extended several times.

Following that ruling Amtrak and the nation’s airlines also changed their own face mask rules to make wearing of masks optional.

CDC continues to recommend that transit system users wear facial masks while aboard transit vehicles.

SEPTA Proposes $1B Capital Budget

April 26, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has proposed a capital budget for fiscal year 2023 that will be the first to top the $1 billion level.

The agency’s governing board will consider the $1.162 capital budget during its June meeting.

Staff also recommended a $11.4 billion 12-year capital spending plan. If approved the FY2023 budget would become effective on July 1.

In a news release, SEPTA said the “core of this budget” is funding coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The budget also includes newly bondable state funding and federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds.

Among the highlights of the proposed capital spending are $18.49 million for SEPTA’s bridge program; $104.89 million for communications, signal systems and technology improvements; $54 million for the infrastructure safety renewal program; and $33.79 million for maintenance/transportation shops and offices.

Other capital funding would include $143.99 million for “projects of significance,” including Bus Revolution ($13.26 million), King of Prussia Rail ($40.04 million; to extend the existing Norristown High Speed Line four miles into King of Prussia), Rail Vehicle Procurement ($5.77 million; Market Frankford Line and Regional Rail), and Trolley Modernization ($84.92 million).

SEPTA would allocate $31.58 million for safety and security improvements; $12.71 million for service restoration and enhancements; $88.69 million for stations, loops and parking improvements; $25.07 for substations and power improvements; $7.92 for track and right-of-way improvements; $273.11 for vehicle acquisitions and overhauls; and financial obligations of $56.79 million in capital leases and $305.48 million in debt service.