Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
A small ray of hope shone on SEPTA last week as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission set aside $9.8 million dollars to keep trains running on their current schedule until the planned February 27th cuts. The commission expressed hope that the state would fully fund SEPTA by then, and may be able to allocate additional funds after the February cutoff date. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell also found an additional $3.2 million. SEPTA’s deficit is still around $50 million.
Students around the Philadelphia area are protesting the strikes loudly. Most groups are associated with the umbrella Pennsylvania Transit Coalition, which is composed of unions, environmental groups, businesses, and many other groups. Students are represented by Campus Philly and the Greater Philadelphia Students Association.
The coalition is organizing a Valentine’s Day march on the Pennsylvania capitol in Harrisburg, which it hopes will attract 25,000 people. Protesters are also handing out pamphlets at stations and collecting petition signatures. The protest is represented at Swarthmore by the new Tri-co Environmental Coalition and the College Democrats, who are manning the Swarthmore train station on weekends.
The cuts’ impact would be wide-reaching. Here, students in Education classes depend on SEPTA for travel, as do students taking classes at Penn, some of which go past the proposed 5:00 last train. Many staff members also depend on SEPTA. “The proposed cuts will create such a financial burden for those staff members that can least afford it that it is important to speak out against them,” said Derek Martin, a Villanova student who is working on the campaign with Campus Philly and the PTC.
“I think that it is the state’s duty to provide fair and affordable transportation to all Pennsylvanians. Dedicated funding will allow SEPTA to keep fares low thereby allowing all college students, faculty members, and campus staff members to get to and from work within their means,” Martin concluded.