No riders, no revenue: SEPTA anticipates $7M deficit to continue to grow

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The coronavirus pandemic is sending SEPTA's balance sheet off the rails. 

At a meeting held by teleconference on Thursday, Deputy General Manager Rich Burnfield told the SEPTA board that following the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, transit ridership was down 79%, and Regional Rail ridership fell by 96% last month. 

That turned a February surplus into a $7 million deficit in March — a deficit Burnfield expected to grow significantly. 

General Manager Leslie Richards pointed out that federal stimulus money will fill only part of the void.

“It is not nearly enough, and future funding forecasts are bleak,” she said.

Richards said virtual public hearings on SEPTA's fare restructuring have been postponed until late May, and the effective date for the new fares would be determined. 

More than 100 SEPTA workers have tested positive for coronavirus, and four employees have died from COVID-19. Richards noted that the SEPTA leadership met with heavy hearts.

“Running service in a pandemic is a tremendous challenge,” she said, “but losing our colleagues and having our co-workers fall ill is definitely the most difficult part.”

The board held a moment of silence for the four employees who died from COVID-19.

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