Daniel Denvir of the Philadelpia City Paper expertly paints the picture behind the colorful past of "[t]he underrated, underfunded, enormous and, yes, aromatic Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, known with strained affection as SEPTA" and the social and political concerns placing strains, some would call fatal, on the popularly-used (though not popularly-adored) system.
The most pressing issue at hand is funding constraints, mainly related to political infighting. "Republican politics in Pennsylvania are no longer determined by the commonwealth's challenges," writes Denvir. Pennsylvania Republicans, often ear-to-mouth with the Tea Party, and with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Congress offering little support, have left SEPTA largely to fend for itself, despite increasing financial problems. The system's capital funds alone, according to SEPTA chief engineer Jeff Knueppel, lacks the "$600 million" which will be needed to keep the system safe and operation in its current state, let alone any funds for new purchases or expansions of service, despite the growing ridership. Capital investment "now stands near a woefully inadequate $300 million."
Investments in public transportation could mean "jobs created, economy stimulated and people's lives made remarkably easier," says Denvir, but, "[w]ithout the political will from local, state and national elected officials, SEPTA won't ever get back on track.