Earlier this week SEPTA announced that the 10 public hearings initially scheduled for the FY 2021 budget and fare changes would proceed as scheduled, though as 4 “virtual” hearings in response to COVID-19. In our statement we said “SEPTA will not get meaningful input from the public by holding fare increase hearings during a pandemic”. SEPTA later announced the hearings would be postponed.
These hearings exist to allow riders to state and illustrate how changes in transit prices affect our lives. We are pleased and relieved that the hearings have been postponed for 30 days.
If SEPTA again decides to go ahead with “virtual” hearings, does SEPTA have the ability, in under a month and during a pandemic, to inform riders how to participate in “virtual” hearings? Instead, we suggest that the SEPTA board and management use this time to powerfully show that SEPTA is essential, life-sustaining infrastructure and to demand immediate state and federal aid instead of cutting service.
When life returns to normal, we hope that SEPTA management will retain this new enthusiasm for using technology to solicit broader participation from the public.
Looking to take action? You can sign our open letter asking SEPTA to protect transit riders and workers during this crisis.