The state House has taken the first step to substantially increase the amount of money available to local transit agencies.

As part of its passage Tuesday of the bill implementing the tax code to support the state budget, the House approved increasing the money available to transit agencies from 4.4% to 6.4% of the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Trust Fund. Transit agencies across the state had lobbied for the increase during a House Transportation Committee hearing in Philadelphia last month.

The bill now goes to the state Senate for approval.

If the tax code is approved, the trust fund would disperse an estimated $66 million more a year for Pittsburgh Regional Transit and $190 million annually for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority around Philadelphia, the two largest transit agencies in the state. About $39 million would be available for other transit agencies across the state.

“SEPTA is grateful for the leadership of the Pennsylvania House in advancing a funding solution public transportation statewide,” spokesman Andrew Busch said in a statement. “This measure would help SEPTA avoid massive service cuts and drastic fare increases that are looming with the coming fiscal cliff. SEPTA’s board and CEO are committed to continuing a productive dialogue with lawmakers as this moves to the Senate.”

At the September hearing, SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards told legislators her agency would face a $240 million shortfall next year and could enter a “death spiral” of service cuts without the additional support.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit declined comment. PRT CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman said at the September hearing that her agency would face serious financial problems in 2026 or 2027, when federal COVID-19 relief money is expected to run out.

Local transit advocates applauded the move.

“We’re certainly excited about the possibility of additional funding for local transit,” said Laura Wiens, president of Pittsburghers for Public Transit. Her group is part of a statewide coalition of transit advocacy groups supporting the increased funding.

It’s not clear when the Senate will vote on the tax code.

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at