Debating SEPTA fare hike plans

PHILADELPHIA. A group of unhappy riders and advocates urged SEPTA not to raise fares yesterday during a pair of budget hearings in Center City.

As part of SEPTA’s $1.18 billion budget, the agency wants to increase fares roughly 6 percent across the system when the new fiscal year begins July 1. It would be the first fare increase since 2007.

City Consumer Affairs Director Lance Haver questioned officials about the size of a Service Stabilization Fund, which is used to protect against service reductions or fare hikes. Operating Budget Director Frank Gormley promised to provide the information to Haver, but SEPTA wasn’t able to provide details of the fund to Metro as of last night.

“I think it’s almost impossible to decide if this fare increase or any fare increase is needed without determining how much surplus they actually have,” Haver said after the meeting. “I think if it turns out they have a very large surplus, riders will feel differently about [the increase].”

Matthew Mitchell, with the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, suggested that SEPTA raise the base fare from $2 to $2.25 to minimize the increase on Regional Rail and transfer fees, which would be higher than 6 percent.

“We cannot support this proposal,” Mitchell testified. “We are suggesting an alternate plan with a 6-percent increase [across the board].”

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