PA Governor Calls On Bucks, Other Counties To Increase SEPTA Funding

The state and counties could be putting more money toward SEPTA.

A SEPTA Regional Rail train at the station in Levittown.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

Gov. Josh Shapiro is looking at Bucks County and the other Philadelphia-area counties to put more funding toward SEPTA.

In his proposed budget, the Democratic governor, a former Montgomery County commissioner, called for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties to contribute more for the regional public transit system.

The governor proposed for the state to contribute an additional $161 million to SEPTA, which has been plagued with safety, cleanliness, and service issues in recent years.

“This will trigger an automatic match of 15 percent from local counties, raising another $24 million for the system this year,” Shapiro said in his February budget address.

The rough math works out to just under $5 million more per year from each county if the figure is split evenly.

In its 2024 budget, Bucks County government plans to pay SEPTA $5.3 million, a 7.9 percent increase over 2023. The budget also includes $1.9 million in pass-through funding for non-SEPTA public transit in the county.

“The county has had brief talks with SEPTA about extra funding, but it is not something the commissioners have had the opportunity to consider,” said James O’Malley, the deputy communications director for Bucks County.

The Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown Borough.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

The commissioners – two Democrats and one Republican – were unable to discuss an increase because they had not seen any proposal from SEPTA, O’Malley added.

SEPTA spokesperson John Golden said the transit agency was still “dissecting the state’s proposal.”

The counties are expected to be presented with SEPTA’s proposed budget in April.

The push for more SEPTA funding comes as the agency faces a funding shortfall of $240 million when its new fiscal year begins in July. SEPTA’s 2023-2024 budget totaled $1.6 billion.

A SEPTA bus leaves the Levittown Train Station in Tullytown Borough.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

Shapiro has been working to fill the gap and provide more stable funding.

The governor said his proposal for more state funding and county funding would mean SEPTA could avoid fare hikes and service cuts. He noted the SEPTA has agreed to “address concerns about cleanliness and safety.”

Steve Noll, the executive director of TMA Bucks, a transportation management services and solutions advocacy organization, noted the importance of SEPTA in Bucks County.

“For those without cars or who are unable to drive, SEPTA service is particularly important as a critical lifeline to services, employment, businesses, and medical treatment, among countless other things. Even those who infrequently or never ride SEPTA enjoy reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality from the thousands of cars that the system removes from area roadways. The only reason SEPTA can accomplish this is the various subsidies that support the operation and maintenance of the system, as is the case with transit systems nationwide,” Noll said.

He added: “Gov. Shapiro’s proposal to put some of the onus on counties for increasing government contributions to public transportation in the form of a local match is a very common practice in funding transit systems that ensures a local investment from the communities benefiting from the service. While the governor has asserted that county government officials have expressed a willingness to bear an increased cost, I believe that there will be considerable discussion concerning the equitable distribution of that financial load among the counties, particularly in counties like Bucks, where there are vast areas unserved or minimally served by SEPTA.”

Noll said that TMA Bucks will be carefully watching the proposal

While Philadelphia has the largest concentration of SEPTA service, Bucks County is served by four Regional Rail lines, several bus routes, and paratransit services.

SEPTA not only serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties but also parts of New Jersey and Delaware.

According to public records, SEPTA has been slowly rebounding after COVID-19-related drops in ridership and revenue. Data from January showed Regional Rail service was 57 percent of pre-pandemic levels, buses were at 74 percent, and the subway was at 58 percent.

Including the SEPTA funding, Shapiro’s budget includes a proposed $282.8 million boost in transit funding statewide.

Shapiro has suggested reallocating an additional 1.75 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue into the Pennsylvania Transportation Trust Fund. The adjustment would support not only the transit systems in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas but also those in less populated regions throughout the state.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.

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