SEPTA's capital budget for the coming fiscal year includes money for more accurate travel information, improved stations, and more than 500 new buses, all part of a long-term plan to update a system that for years went without needed upgrades.
The $548.63 million capital budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, was made public Friday and is about $14 million more than FY 2016's capital budget. It is part of a $7.3 billion, 12-year capital program.
SEPTA's overall budget for the coming year is about $1.4 billion.
New vehicles are the single biggest capital expense this year, with $168 million set aside. A portion of that is for purchases from recent years, including $15.5 million toward 13 electric locomotives. But the budget includes $60 million for 525 new 40-foot buses expected to be delivered between 2017 and 2021 at a total cost of $415 million.
Another expense new in the coming fiscal year is $48.6 million to lease Amtrak-controlled rail. Seven of the 13 Regional Rail lines run on Amtrak's rail, and this year federal law boosted the cost of leasing that track on the Northeast Corridor.
In FY 2015, the cost was $28.6 million. The additional expense is largely covered by an increase in federal funds, said Richard Burnfield, SEPTA's deputy general manager.
The agency's capital budget is supported by $326.8 million in state funds; $210.9 million in federal money; and $10.9 million in matching funds from Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.
Portions of the year's spending will go toward giving users more accurate, high-tech resources. The budget devotes $77.1 million to the long-promised SEPTA Key electronic fare card, which was supposed to debut this month. SEPTA will announce April 15 whether the card will begin circulating in June or later in the year. The total cost of the project is expected to be $268 million.
Another $18 million is being spent this year on signal systems, communications, and technology, including equipment to be installed on vehicles that will provide riders with far more current information about vehicle locations. Currently, locators update every three minutes. The new equipment, to be installed from this year through 2019, would update that information every 30 seconds, Burnfield said.