Committee hearing focuses on improving public transportation

Public transit powers PA’s economy with millions of workers relying on it

HARRISBURG, Feb. 20 – Experts from public transportation explained how regular, predictable investments from the General Assembly could improve public transit and continue to drive the economy during a House Majority Policy Committee hearing Tuesday.

“Public transportation is a critical lifeline for residents in my district, it is the one thing that connects us as a community,” said Rep. Waxman, who requested and hosted the hearing. “What makes my district in Philadelphia unique is we have more residents that rely on public transit to get to work and their daily needs like doctor appointments, but we also have one of the most active districts for visitors traveling into our district through public transportation.”

Millions of Pennsylvania residents depend on public transportation to commute to work.

“Chronic underfunding and a lack of state-dedicated funding has placed many forms of mass transit in a crisis, which affects the ability to provide safe services or adapt to riders’ needs,” Waxman said. 

The committee heard from CEO and General Manager of SEPTA Leslie Richards; Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Ariella Maron; and Coalition Manager of Transit Forward Philadelphia Connor Descheemaker.

“Testifiers highlighted the economic importance of public transportation, noting workers in southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia help drive 41% of the state’s economic activity and many of them depend on mass transportation,” House Majority Policy Vice Chairwoman Rep. Isaacson said. “It’s critical for the state to correct the funding shortfall for the sake of our residents and our economy.”

Waxman authored H.B. 902, which would provide funding options to keep public transportation running.

SEPTA highlighted the importance of its service, noting the section of Interstate 95 that collapsed after a fiery deadly collapse and was rebuilt in less than two weeks, has an estimated 129,000 trips daily, while SEPTA provides an estimated 700,000 unlinked passenger trips daily.

Experts also detailed they are spending more resources than ever before to improve and ensure public safety, yet Philadelphia mass transit system is one of the most underfunded in the nation.

“Mass transportation is a driving force for Pennsylvania’s economy,” House Majority Policy Chairman Rep. Bizzarro said. “Expert testimony detailed the fiscal cliff mass transit is facing. If the state is not able to find a solution, it would cause a decrease in safety and services and in turn result in more clogged roadways. Mass transportation is needed for residents, but it’s also vital in decreasing congestion on roadways to allow freight and goods reach their final destination.”

Information about this hearing and other House Majority Policy Committee hearings can be found at Livestream of the hearing can be found at Photos to be used for publication can be found at