Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SEPTA loses bid for $30M

Just as SEPTA begins operating the new Silverliner V cars for Regional Rail service, a bid for $30M in federal funding was lost. The 120 new cars cost $274M. However, part of the larger plan to streamline the system included a new electronic fare system which would have cost $100M.

Newer and sleeker, looks are deceiving. SEPTA's new Silverliner V cars won't get you home any faster.

The system would be similar to the debit system used in other cities for buses, subways, and trolleys. Passengers would be able to swipe a card at turnstiles and ticket machines to pay for fares. However, the new "high-tech" system would not be fully automated. Unlike similar commuter rail strategies such as Washington's Metro, SEPTA's new trains would still require conductors to verify passengers' tickets.

It's unclear why the federal funds were denied, but it may have something to do with SEPTA's chronic ability to waste money. SEPTA's buses and trolleys currently use technology capable of reading debit cards, but instead of fully accessing the capability of a system they already paid for and expanding it, they've mapped out an entirely new system from scratch.

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