SEPTA’s Extravagant Spending

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony from SEPTA officials defending their lavish spending habits during a state transportation funding crisis.

Senator Rafferty expressed concern, saying:

Perception is reality. In [these] tough economic times when we’re making cutbacks … when [people] hear reports about Christmas dinners and they hear reports of gifts, I think the [SEPTA] chairman and the board ought re-evaluate that position. (Subscription)

Fox 29 found SEPTA officials spent:

  • $15,000 on three Christmas parties for their unpaid board,
  • $1,100 at the Fountain Restaurant for a going away party for a former General Manager,
  • $3,600 for a meet and greet with legislators at a Harrisburg Restaurant,
  • and $18,000 on three first-class tickets to Seoul, while another executive made the same trip for $1,300.

SEPTA, like PHEAA and other state entities that compete (or would, if not for laws granting them a monopoly) with private companies, is continually criticized for luxurious spending. So why does it continue? It continues because these entities are not accountable to their customers or beholden to a bottom line. As long as they have friends in Harrisburg, the taxpayer abuse will continue.

Mass transit services can be provided more effectively and cheaply by competitive contracting. It’s the only way to stop SEPTA’s overspending while dramatically improving mass transit service.