Philadelphia House Delegation praises approval of increase in public transit funding

S.B. 654 would shift additional funding to SEPTA, eliminate need for service cuts

Harrisburg, March 20 – Today, members of the Philadelphia House Delegation were an integral part of the state House of Representatives’ approval of a proposed increase in recurring funds for public transportation in Pennsylvania. 

Senate Bill 654 was amended in House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, March 19 and passed by the full House of Representatives on a 106-95 vote today. All 25 members of the Philadelphia House Delegation voted in the affirmative. The bill would increase the transfer of sales tax revenue to the Public Transportation Trust Fund by an additional 1.75% to a total of 6.15%. It is expected that this would generate nearly $300 million in additional funding for all mass transit systems in Pennsylvania.

Delegation Chairwoman Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., explained the importance of SEPTA to the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Philly doesn’t move without SEPTA. Southeastern Pennsylvania would be at a standstill if SEPTA were to cut service and the state’s economy would be crippled as our region generates over $2 billion in annual direct impact and nearly 27,000 jobs,” said Cephas. “This funding shift without a tax increase is critical for our entire state.”

Delegation Vice Chair Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., outlined the value of public transportation to Philadelphia and the surrounding communities. “Public transportation is crucial to many communities across the commonwealth and especially here in Philadelphia with SEPTA,” Burgos said. “Whether it’s by bus, train or subway, nearly 1 million people use SEPTA for transportation daily in the Philadelphia region. The approval of this funding increase for public transportation by the House is a good start to ensure Philadelphians and those living in the surrounding areas can still rely on SEPTA to get where they need to go.”

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila. said he supported the funding increase as a necessity in his district and a lifeline in rural communities.

“SEPTA is the backbone of our city. Whether it's the Broad Street Subway, the historic Route 15 trolleys on Girard, or the Route 23 bus, people in my communities ride every day to their jobs, their families, for entertainment, and day-to-day appointments,” said Kenyatta who serves as the delegation treasurer. “Public transportation is even more crucial for seniors and folks with special needs in rural areas across the commonwealth. This funding increase would allow service to continue, provide freedom of mobility, and keep fares reasonable for all Pennsylvanians.”

The 1.75% increase mirrors what Gov. Josh Shapiro requested in his proposal for the 2024-25 state budget. The bill now moves to the PA Senate for approval.