SEPTA warns about potential layoffs, canceled routes due to COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- SEPTA officials are warning about potential layoffs and canceled routes as the agency's ridership hits an all-time low, losing about $1 million a day.

"A lot of people rely on SEPTA, and just like before, they did shut down Route 105 back in April and a lot of people were hurt," said rider Jada King.

"If we didn't have public transportation, there would be so many more cars on the road and that's already a problem. And then to go into Center City -- parking is expensive," said Nancy Alto of Upper Darby.

Representatives from SEPTA said their operation is riding on how much state and federal funding comes in next year. The agency's budget is more than $650 million a year.

"Not only are we dealing with the pandemic just like every transit agency in the country, we also have the unfortunate timing of our funding coming from the state and the counties being in an uncertain state," said SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards.

The transit agency received $644 million in CARES Act funding back in the spring to keep things afloat with less riders. Richards is anticipating those funds will run out soon.

"Just because there are less riders does not mean it is less expensive. We still have salaries to pay and our employees deserve a full salary for a full days work, of course, and there's a lot of maintenance work that's required on our tracks," Richards said.

SEPTA representatives don't expect to have any definite answers until the new year, but they do plan to keep riders informed on what's going on through social media and engaging with advocacy groups.
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