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The Southeast Partnership for Mobility Calls on State & Local Leaders to Address Transportation Funding Crisis

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The Southeast Partnership for Mobility, a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), was created in late 2017 to develop a blueprint to meet the region’s growing mobility challenges and to develop potential solutions to address the impacts of changes coming to Act 44 public transportation funding sources.

After a 15-month study, the Partnership, issued a report that provides lawmakers and local elected officials with the necessary background to:

  • Secure statewide public transportation funding to ease the PTC’s need for future toll increases and ensure stable funding for public transportation.
  • Pass enabling legislation to allow the new local revenue sources to be invested in projects to accommodate and accelerate regional growth.

An Advisory Council comprised of leaders representing the region’s major employers, civic associations, elected offices, and transportation agencies advised the Partnership with thoughtful guidance that is reflected throughout the report.

Transportation Is Not A Cost – It Is An Investment

The report details how the region is a critical driver of the statewide economy and the role that SEPTA plays, noting that southeast Pennsylvania generates 41 percent of the state’s total economic activity and is home to 32 percent of its population on just 5 percent of its land. The Philadelphia region has grown by more than 100,000 new residents since 2010. This level of density and economic productivity is only possible with a high-capacity transit system to keep the region moving. Review SEPTA’s Economic Portal for more details.

SEPTA has also identified four game-changing projects that will help to transform the region. Click here to learn more about the SEPTA Projects of Significance Economic and Fiscal Impact.

Pa Turnpike and Customers Need Relief From Act 44

Act 44 required the PTC to provide PennDOT with $450 million annually for highways, bridges, and public transit, with Act 89 of 2013 modifying the payments to dedicate the full amount to public transit. In 2022, PTC payments to PennDOT for transit will be reduced to $50 million and then $450 million will be provided from the state’s General Fund. The report makes it clear that the state’s current system for financing transit statewide, which is heavily dependent on Turnpike tolls, is increasingly at risk. The PTC needs to provide relief to its customers from excessive toll hikes and make critical investments in new interchanges to power economic growth across our entire commonwealth.

To maintain the baseline of $450 million to support Pennsylvania’s public transportation systems, the legislature should consider alternative funding sources and timing. For example beginning now, gradually transition the PTC payments to provide the PTC with sooner. There are several benefits as follows.

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The PTC and Port Authority of Allegheny County conducted a similar study in the Southwest. To review a copy of that report, please visit the corresponding link at the top of this page or click here. In addition, the Pennsylvania Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) recently released a statewide study of the potential risks to transportation funding in the state that included the risks of Act 44 to the PTC and public transportation agencies statewide. The report can be found at www.TalkPATransportation.com.

The PTC has developed this online resource to share findings of the study and background information on the Act 44 crisis and the statewide transportation funding challenges that we are confronting.

Regional Mobility Partnership Issues Transportation Funding Report
Report Identifies Funding Challenges, Provides Options and Highlights Need for Action

The Southwest Partnership for Mobility today released a report regarding challenges facing the region’s transportation system as a resource for state elected officials as they address the need for dedicated, annual statewide funding.

The Partnership, co-chaired by PA Turnpike Commission Chair and PA Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Kelleman, called on the legislature to act quickly to address identified needs and offered their commitment and willingness to help.

A common theme throughout the process from all stakeholders, members of the Advisory Council and the Partnership co-chairs was one of “Connections.” While the focus was on the Port Authority as the transit provider for the region’s core, the transit agencies throughout the region rely upon state funding to provide the services upon which its riders rely.

Key Findings & Next Steps

Act 89 of 2013 stipulates that in 2022, PTC’s annual payment to PennDOT (per Act 44 of 2007) will be reduced from $450 to $50 million; the burden for the difference will transfer to the state’s General Fund. The time to find a solution is now.

This region is growing, and we need to start investing more in our transportation infrastructure or that growth will end. It is vital to establish a reliable, stable and sustainable funding source. Doing nothing is the most expensive option for this community. To continue moving forward, we need statewide support.

Specifically, two actions are needed to address the region’s transportation funding challenges:

  • Fix Pennsylvania Act 44. Stabilize statewide public transportation funding without the current structure that relies on payments from PTC. This will ease PTC’s debt burden and need for future toll increases without adversely affecting the operational stability or progress provided by Act 89 of 2013, and also allow the PTC to continue expanding and maintaining its system.
  • Fund projects to maintain the region’s competitiveness. Pass enabling legislation to allow the region’s residents and local officials to explore locally-enacted revenue sources. This will allow local officials to make decisions about investments in additional projects to accommodate and accelerate regional growth.

Southwest Partnership for Mobility Advisory Council

SW Mobility Council photo

The Port Authority of Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and Allegheny County formed the Partnership in early 2018 to address the challenges facing the region’s transportation system. The Partnership formed a cross-sector advisory council of regional stakeholders that included transportation agencies, local elected officials, major employers, and civic leaders. Every county in the region had a seat on the Council.

Participants shared unique insights into the transportation challenges and opportunities in the Pittsburgh region. They emphasized the need to provide connections for residents and employers to ensure continued growth in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Testimonials

“Transportation infrastructure, including transit, is such an important part of our economy in this region and it’s one that we cannot ignore, or try to work around. Doing nothing is the most expensive option that we have right now.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald
“We have very serious challenges and risks facing our current and future transportation funding resources. When you look at sustaining and growing our communities, this report proves that transportation access is a critical component of that equation.”
PA Turnpike Commission Chair and PA Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards
“If you’ve ever been on a crowded rail car or have been passed up because your bus was too full; if you live in a neighborhood that has little access to public transit or if you’ve ever been late to work or picking your child up at daycare, then you know how important our service is to this community.”
Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Kelleman
“Companies and employees view mass transit as a key differentiator in choosing where to locate their businesses and where to work. We need to continue growing capacity across the commonwealth so that we can support economic growth and compete with regions like New York and Washington D.C. to attract new business.”
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin
“Pennsylvania employers are facing a growing workforce shortage which is at the forefront of addressing transit issues. We must make getting to work a seamless and timely process in our region and, as such, seek a partnership with the Commonwealth, employers, and local governments who will need to invest in transit or related services in our region. Enabling legislation means we can develop local or regional investment solutions.”
Commissioner Leslie Osche, Butler County
“We’re proud of our region’s growth and the opportunities here, and we are committed to addressing transit and transportation funding so we can continue that growth and ensure that everyone in our community has access to those opportunities. This report makes those arguments for the legislature and outlines options for their consideration. We look forward to working with them on this important issue.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald
“While we can make sure our buses are clean and on time, and your experience meets your expectations, we simply cannot meet our region’s growing demand for public transit service without reliable and sustainable funding.”
Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Kelleman
“The transportation needs of the next decade will require the support and flexibility of every level of government. Better connecting rural areas with population centers, jobs and services will be critical to the economic development and sustainability for all of southwest Pennsylvania.”
Chairman Michael. A Baker, Indiana County Commissioner

Pa Turnpike and Customers Need Relief From Act 44

The report makes it clear that the state’s current system for financing transit statewide, which is heavily dependent on Turnpike tolls, is increasingly at risk. The PTC needs to provide relief to its customers from excessive toll hikes and make critical investments in new interchanges to power economic growth across our entire commonwealth. To maintain the baseline of $450 million to support Pennsylvania’s public transportation systems, the legislature should consider alternative funding sources and timing. For example beginning now, gradually transition the PTC payments to provide the PA Turnpike with relief sooner. There are several benefits as follows.

SW Benefits of a Gradual Act44 Payment Transition graphic

The PTC and SEPTA released a similar study in the southeast. It is available here as well. While there are similarities, the Southwest Pennsylvania region and, therefore, the report include unique considerations specific to this region.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) recently released a statewide study of the potential risks to transportation funding in the state that included the risks of Act 44 to the PTC and public transportation agencies statewide. The report can be found at www.TalkPATransportation.com.

The PTC has developed this online resource to share findings of the study and background information on the Act 44 crisis and the statewide transportation funding challenges that we are confronting.

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