SEPTA pauses King of Prussia rail project citing rising costs worsened by inflation and interest rates
PHILADELPHIA - The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) says its pausing construction of the King of Prussia rail due to rising costs which have been "exacerbated by inflation and high interest rates."
Spokesperson Andrew Busch told FOX 29 that SEPTA will use resources that had been allocated for KOP Rail to bolster essential infrastructure work. The largest factor that's preventing SEPTA from continuing work on the rail extension is the lack of flexibility in SEPTA’s capital budget, according to Busch.
"In discussions this week, the Federal Transit Administration raised concerns about whether SEPTA could fund its share of the project, which would include any cost overruns. SEPTA’s capital budget is constrained compared to peer transit agencies that have more state and local funding available," a statement shared Friday read.
The project, according to KingOfPrussiaRail.com, planned to extend the existing Norristown High Speed Line four miles into King of Prussia. The website says it was designed to provide "a high-speed, "one-seat" ride from any station along the NHSL, including the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby and the Norristown Transportation Center in Norristown."
SEPTA paused its King of Prussia line project due to rising costs.
SEPTA says its budget is tighter than transit agencies in other cities that have more state and local funding available, making the KOP rail extension impossible to handle with other "critical projects," including the Market-Frankford Line fleet replacement, Trolley Modernization, and accessibility improvements.
"SEPTA's capital budget has been underfunded for decades," SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said. "This has left the Authority with significantly fewer resources than peer agencies to pursue system expansion while also addressing critical infrastructure needs."
SEPTA estimates that the cost of the King of Prussia rail project will increase by approximately $100M with each passing year. The estimated cost of the project increased from $2.08M-$2.6M from August 2020 to August 2022, and currently has an estimated cost of over $3M.
"The King of Prussia rail would have delivered real benefits to our city and region by providing reliable public transportation connecting our three largest employment hub in Center City, University City, and King of Prussia," Richards said. "It would have eased congestion on area roadways and reduced air pollution."