WASHINGTON, DC – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman, joined by the majority of the Philadelphia area congressional delegation, today sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg urging the Biden Administration to continue investment in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) amid a looming transit fiscal cliff.

The letter comes one month after the Pennsylvania state budget failed to include an increase in state public transit funding. The change, which SEPTA has pushed for, would have translated to a $295 million increase for public transit operation across PA, including approximately $190 million more for SEPTA. This change would have prevented likely fare increases and severe service cuts, which could lead to as many as 20% fewer rides overall.

Sen. Fetterman was joined on the letter by fellow Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA).

The full letter can be found here.

“We are at a critical juncture for transit in the Philadelphia region. Without strong, sustained federal support, Pennsylvanians risk losing transit access entirely,” wrote the Pennsylvania members. “However, we shouldn’t set the bar so low – Pennsylvanians deserve a world-class transit system that is efficient, fast, safe, and comprehensive. As the Department of Transportation continues its critical work, [we] urge you to prioritize SEPTA and Pennsylvania’s transit systems.”

SEPTA’s service is essential for the entire southeastern Pennsylvania region, providing a transit option for nearly 150 million city and suburban riders in 2022. A high-quality transit system is essential to maintain growth and economic vitality in the region, both downtown and throughout the region. The agency projects $240 million annual operating deficits of starting in July – the end of its federal pandemic aid reserve.

Transit in the Philadelphia region could undergo a death spiral as these cuts lead to decreased ridership, which would in turn lead to additional cuts. These service cuts and fare hikes will hurt the lowest-income riders the most, and the collapse of SEPTA would hurt commuters, families, sports fans, tourists, and the economy at large, as the southeast region generates 42% of statewide economic activity and 38% of state government’s tax base.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represented a commitment to transforming our transit systems – Pennsylvanians deserve to see that investment put to work in their communities,” they concluded.

Senator Fetterman has advocated for Pennsylvania public transit continuously in his time in Washington, including through the introduction the Transit Emergency Relief Act in October, which would speed up the delivery of funds to transit operators in transit emergencies.