6/27/24: FY25 Philly Budget Offers a Mixed Bag for Transit

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On June 17th, Mayor Cherelle Parker signed into law the City Operating and Capital Budget for Fiscal Year 2025. Our collective advocacy produced wins for SEPTA's operations and capital allocation, and transit-priority infrastructure, while major fights remain on Vision Zero and other transit-supportive funding.

Color image of a bus at an unsheltered stop in front of a sunny sky. visible are the backs of people standing behind a folding table and a bike locked to a bus stop sign

We're proud and grateful for the 6 advocates who joined us for live, in-person public comment at this year's City budget hearings. Those in power heard loud and clear that riders need more from transit!

Happily, this year’s budget includes a nearly 25% increase in the City’s allocation to the SEPTA budget, one of the largest increases in history. The transfer to the SEPTA’s Capital Budget was increased to $7.8 million, while the operating transfer was increased to $133 million.

From that pot, the city will provide local matching funds for capital projects across the city, including ADA improvements at 40th, Arrott, Susquehanna-Dauphin, Tasker-Morris and Erie Stations, and bus loop upgrades around the city. The budget also allocates the city’s share of funding to cover the purchase of new vehicles for the Regional Rail and the Market-Frankford Line, one of our top priorities for transit this year.

Over in the Streets Department budget, our advocacy supported the passage of funding for transit priority improvements along five high priority bus corridors in the city. Traffic signal synchronization will be added along congested bus corridors in the city, reducing delays and advancing goals set out in the 2021 Philadelphia Transit Plan. Taken together, this will help address our most-heard complaint from riders: why isn't my bus on-time???

Around the time of budget passage, the City of Philadelphia also expanded automated speed enforcement along Broad Street. This bill would export the safety improvements we’ve seen for pedestrians along Roosevelt Boulevard to the tens of thousands of transit riders who rely on the Broad Street Line and the 4 and 16 every day.

SEPTA bus on a red-painted lane with a tree and sidewalk to the side

As always, though, our work is ongoing. While last year's budget dedicated two years of funding to the Low-Income Zero Fare pilot program, it's funding for just 25,000 riders remains woefully short of the hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who reach its poverty line threshold. Similarly, we must raise the temperature on expansion of the SEPTA K-12 Student Pass to year-round, and all-student participation to make it easier for youth to participate in after school jobs and activities, and be more able to be meaningfully engaged in the city. And we echo calls from the Bicycle Coalition decrying cuts to Vision Zero funding reflected in this year’s budget, to make it safer to walk to and from transit stops around the city.

Lastly, we remain disappointed in the Mayor and Council's public silence on the intercity bus terminal. Budgets reflect priorities, and the FY2025 City budget offered a prime opportunity to move faster issue and show prioritization of this major transportation issue. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Greyhound Terminal closure, and there are still no long-term proposals for a permanent replacement. A curb on the side of the street or in an unsheltered parking lot is widely insufficient for the major transportation hub that Philadelphia is. Riders desperately need an accessible, publicly-owned intercity bus with protection from the region's extreme year-round weather.

Though perhaps less eventful than in 2023, together we're keeping transit as a central issue in Philadelphia politics. Budget season is over, but in the months ahead we're eager for city implementation of camera-assisted bus lane and bus stop enforcement, and we'll keep supporting intercity bus riders and pushing for action on student transit passes. 

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