SEPTA'S BOARD yesterday appointed Jeffrey Knueppel as its next general manager. He'll replace Joseph Casey as the head of the nation's sixth-largest transportation agency.

Knueppel, a 27-year veteran SEPTA employee, will oversee 9,300 employees when he takes over Oct. 1. His salary will be $248,000. Casey is retiring Sept. 30.

"In a climate of ever-increasing responsibilities and funding challenges, Jeff has consistently demonstrated the requisite temperament, passion, strategic management skills and innovative thinking to successfully assume the duties of general manager," said Pasquale Deon Sr., chairman of SEPTA's board.

Knueppel, who lives in Bedminster, Bucks County, has served as deputy general manager in charge of both the operations division and the division of engineering, maintenance and construction.

He graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in New York, and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering. He is a registered professional engineer.

SEPTA said yesterday that it has completed 32 infrastructure-improvement projects under Knueppel's direction.

- William Bender