coronavirus

SEPTA Freezes Hiring, Reduces Executives' Pay as $150 Million Deficit Looms

Deep service reductions are also on the table as ridership plummets due to coronavirus travel restrictions

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A $150 million deficit looms for Philadelphia’s public transit agency because of plummeting ridership figures in the first full week of the coronavirus outbreak, SEPTA's top official said in a letter Friday to employees.

SEPTA previously announced reduction in services across the board as the reality of a prolonged "stay home" order set in, but General Manager Leslie Matthews described "staggering losses in ridership" in the letter as a reason to further reduce spending.

In addition to service reductions, Matthews said she and her executive leadership team will take 10% pay cuts, and she ordered a freeze on both hiring and overtime for existing employees.

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Matthews said Regional Rail ridership has dipped nearly to nothing, down 88%, while ridership on the city's Transit system is down 64%. Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday essentially ordered a complete shutdown of Pennsylvania.

"Those numbers continue to spiral downward in response to increased restrictions imposed on movement designed to suppress the spread of the virus," Matthews wrote.

Starting Sunday, March 22, SEPTA buses, trolleys and trains on the Market Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown lines will begin operating on a Saturday schedule every day of the week until further notice, the agency previously announced.

"We are considering further service reductions on Regional Rail and Transit," she wrote in the letter released Friday evening.

SEPTA initially reduced regional rail services in the very beginning of the outbreak, but the latest move is the first time bus and trolley service will wind down.

SEPTA also announced that the Key Senior and  Reduced Fare Card processing programs at 1234 Market St., Concourse Level and the Accessible Travel Center at Suburban Station are also closed until further notice.

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