SEPTA facing $63M capital budget shortfall over motorists' lawsuit

Discussion in 'Commuter Rail and Rail Transit Discussion' started by Thirdrail7, Jan 16, 2019.

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  1. Jan 16, 2019 #1

    Thirdrail7

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    Thirdrail7

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    I have to admit, I've never like the use of toll road money funding other transportation initiatives. 

     
  2. Jan 17, 2019 #2

    MARC Rider

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    What's their legal argument? 

    I don't have any kids in school, why should my taxes go to education?

    I don't farm, why should my taxes pay for agricultural subsidies?
     
  3. Jan 17, 2019 #3

    Anderson

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    I know there was a lawsuit in New York over the use of Thruway tolls once the Thruway bonds were paid off.
     
  4. Jan 17, 2019 #4

    cirdan

    cirdan

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    I also think the taxes and duties levied on tobacco and alcohol for example needs tgo be spent on subsidies for tobacco and alcohol.

    How dare other departments think they have any right to that money.
     
  5. Jan 18, 2019 #5

    Thirdrail7

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    It would have probably helped you if I posted the link and the rest of the article!

    https://whyy.org/articles/septa-facing-63-million-capital-budget-shortfall-over-motorists-lawsuit/

    A brief fair use quote will air their beef:

     
  6. Jan 19, 2019 #6

    fairviewroad

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    I am definitely not a lawyer, but it seems as though that should be a fairly easy question to sort out. Either diverting those funds to non-highway maintenance is specifically prohibited by PA law, or it's not. The plaintiffs must surely have a reason to think they are correct, otherwise they would not spend the legal fees on the case. The fact that SEPTA is "taking it seriously" is another key indicator here.

    That said, it would also seem to be a relatively simple fix, legally speaking. PA lawmakers could simply change the law, right? Whether the political will is there is a different question, of course.
     
  7. Mar 2, 2019 #7

    neroden

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    Lawsuit looks DOA to me under binding precedents.  That said, you never know what a corrupt hack federal judge will do.. Remember Bush v Gore.
     
  8. Mar 2, 2019 #8

    Metra Electric Rider

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    Hasn't PA had, lets say issues, with Turnpike funding before? Something about where the money went as well as returning highways to tolls after eliminating them?
     
  9. Mar 4, 2019 #9

    Thirdrail7

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    Almost 40 SEPTA projects stalled over Pa. Turnpike lawsuit

    https://www.philly.com/transportation/septa-projects-halted-pennsylvania-turnpike-suit-truckers-penndot-20190225.html

     
  10. Mar 4, 2019 #10

    Bob Dylan

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    Ironic that the 60 Minute Story today used SEPTA as a Model for how PTC works for Trains! <_<
     
  11. Mar 4, 2019 #11

    PRR 60

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    This toll diversion plan started with a proposal floated by then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to toll I-80 across PA. The tolls collected off I-80 would have gone to the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC). The law then called for the PTC to transfer $450 million a year to PennDOT for general transportation needs, one of which is SEPTA.  The PTC would be made whole since the existing turnpike tolls would have used for the turnpike and the $450 million diversion would have come from I-80.  The hitch: adding tolls to I-80 required US DOT approval since the road was originally built with 90% federal interstate highway funding.

    US DOT turned down the I-80 tolling and fund diversion plan as a violation of federal law.  Basically, tolls placed on federally-funded Interstate Highways (which is legal) can only be used for expenditures for that highway.  Diverting the I-80 tolls to other uses was not allowed.  However, despite the fact that the PTC was blocked from collecting I-80 tolls, the state law requiring the $450 million per year funding transfer from the PTC to PennDOT was not changed.  Thus, the PTC had to scrape up that $450 million out of turnpike tolls, which are about $1 billion per year - with $600 million dedicated to debt service.  The result: turnpike tolls have soared (increases every year for the last 10 years or so), more bonds have been issued to pay bills and payroll and the PTC hovers near insolvency.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2019
  12. Mar 4, 2019 #12

    Thirdrail7

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    Thank you for the information, Prr60. It would seem the PTC would have an interest in having the law overturned. This would enable them to remain solvent and fund their own programs.

    New York is floating similar "tolls to fund mass transportation" needs, although it involves free bridges and a watch of the city. I've always felt that tolls collected from those bridges should be used specifically for those bridges. Then, you can use the money that was previously allocated for those bridges to fund your mass transportation needs.

    However, I suspect the tolls will become a slush fund.
     
  13. Mar 5, 2019 #13

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    Septa all but brags that they have PTC. And the best part is, their PTC is horrible. I lost count of how many times I was on a train at Septa the train would dump cause the PTC was set up wrong. 

    Side note. The engineer in that segment is a good guy. He's in their rules department and was one of my instructors. He's a guy that I miss. :)  
     
  14. Mar 6, 2019 #14

    neroden

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    The thing is that the Turnpike wasn't federally funded, so it was legal to divert the money from it.  (Although I believe they have to repair the turnpike first... but it's in good repair.)   So the truckers don't have a legal case.  The Turnpike Commission might be unhappy, but as a "creature of the state" they don't appear to have a legal case either; they do what the state legislature tells 'em to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019

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