SEPTA: Fuel costs are down thanks to hybrid buses - The Philadelphia Tribune

SEPTA says its push for sustainability is paying off.

So far, diesel-electric hybrid buses make up about 90% of the 1,400 buses in SEPTA’s fleet, according to the authority. Plus, SEPTA added 25 electric buses this year, with 10 more expected in 2020.

The continued push to expand its low-emissions fleet helped SEPTA save about $300,000 in fuel costs. That plus $1.7 million in total operating budget savings during the first two months of this fiscal year adds up to a total operating surplus of $200,000.

Deputy general manager Richard Burnfield said the surplus bodes well for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.

“We live within our budget,” he said. “No matter what, we carefully manage our resources throughout the year, day to day, week to week, as we look at both the revenue side and the expense side. So it’s a favorable start to the new fiscal year.”

More than $1.1 million of the $1.7 million in operating budget savings came from reductions in medical and prescription expenses for SEPTA employees.

And even with those cost-saving measures, SEPTA’s budget success barely eclipsed losses in ridership revenue, which was down by $1.5 million.

Regional rail numbers were “strong,” Burnfield said. The loss was primarily from city transit.

Burnfield said Independence Day and a later school year impacted revenue.

Last year, the School District of Philadelphia started the school year before Labor Day, resulting in $750,000 in student pass sales. And since Fourth of July fell on a Thursday, many potential riders opted for a four-day weekend.

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