Currently, some Pennsylvania Republican representatives, including Majority Leader Michael Turzai, are calling for Governor Corbett to hold off on finding a dedicated source of funding for the Commonwealth's ailing mass transit systems, including SEPTA. While we commend their calls to finally tackle road/bridge funding, we insist that mass transit funding not be left behind.
The reality is that mass transit agencies across PA are struggling. Some agencies, like PAT in Pittsburgh, are being forced to make painful decisions with regard to service cuts and fare increases right now, while other agencies, like SEPTA, will be forced to make similarly painful decisions starting as soon as this-coming year. This is because state lawmakers have held off on finding a dedicated source of transportation funding, which has punctured a major hole in transit agencies budgets. It would be a massive mistake to proceed with the roads/bridges component of transportation funding, but kick the can down the track on mass transit funding.
This petition comes at an especially crucial time with federal lawmakers struggling to even talk to each other about averting the massive across-the-board cuts accompanying the debt ceiling. While a good amount of road/bridge funding is protected from these sequestration cuts, many sources of mass transit funding are not protected. If large federal mass transit cuts result in January, it becomes even more important that Pennsylvania addresses mass transit funding.
If state lawmakers don't address mass transit funding along with other forms of transportation funding by early 2013, you should really be asking "what if there was no money to run my train?". With this in mind, the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers (DVARP) urges Gov. Corbett to come up with a dedicated source of funding for mass transit, roads, and bridges in PA by early 2013.