PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-12) has introduced legislation that would help provide dedicated and predictable funding for public transit agencies throughout Pennsylvania. State Representative John J. Taylor (R-177) intends to introduce identical legislation in the near future.
“Efficient and effective public transportation is critically important to the economic prosperity of all Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Greenleaf, a member of the SEPTA Board representing Bucks and Montgomery Counties.
“SEPTA and every transit agency across Pennsylvania are facing dire consequences without stable state funding. I’m confidant this legislation will provide that stability,” said Representative Taylor.
The legislation being introduced in the State House and Senate would lift a $75 million cap and dedicate an additional 3.2184% of the existing sales tax to transit, generating approximately $282 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2004. SEPTA’s share would exceed $174 million. The sales tax was selected because it has a history of stability and growth.
“This legislation would provide the financial stability SEPTA absolutely requires to operate a transit system our customers expect and deserve,” said SEPTA Board Chairman, Pasquale T. Deon, Sr.
Also announced at the Philadelphia news conference, Paul Levy, Executive Director of Philadelphia Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, has agreed to lead the saveTransit Coalition.
saveTransit Coalition was formed earlier this year to coordinate a wide variety of public transportation interests seeking a long-term funding solution for public transit in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.
“Paul has been an ardent supporter of public transportation and brings to the saveTransit Coalition a sophisticated knowledge of the critical role SEPTA plays in the economy of the city, the region, and the state,” said SEPTA General Manager Faye Moore. “Paul is widely respected among business, political and civic leaders for his practical approach to solving fundamental issues in the region,” she said.
Levy is the founding executive director of Philadelphia’s Center City District (CCD), serving in that capacity since January 1991. He planned and received property owner and legislative approval for, and now directs the $14 million downtown management district, which provides security, hospitality, cleaning, place marketing, promotion, and planning services for the central business district of Philadelphia. Levy also oversaw property owner and legislative approval of a 20-year reauthorization of the CCD in 1994. He also serves as executive director of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, an advocacy and planning organization supported by the downtown business community.
“Through the saveTransit Coalition we have an opportunity to stress just how important transit is to Philadelphia and this region,” Levy said. “I have agreed to serve as the leader of the coalition because transit moves this region and without it our roads would be more congested, it would be harder for our stores to attract customers as well as prospective employees, and our region would not be as attractive to the types of businesses that we are trying to bring in and hold onto.”
The saveTransit Coalition was created to call upon Pennsylvania State Government to enact legislation to provide dedicated and predictable funding for SEPTA and public transit across the Commonwealth. Because of funding shortfalls in the state budget in six of the past nine years SEPTA and transit agencies across the state are facing multi-million dollar budget deficits. SEPTA has announced that it will have an FY ’05 Operating Budget deficit of $70 million without additional state funding.