SEPTA must increase fares by at least 11 percent and perhaps as much as 31 percent, the agency's general manager said today, and she warned of service cuts and employee layoffs without increased aid from the state.

If the state increased its subsidy of SEPTA by $100 million, the proposed fare increase, effective July 1, would be 11 percent, general manager Faye Moore said. Without an increase in state aid from the current $300 million, she said, 1,000 of SEPTA's 9,200 jobs would be eliminated; bus, subway, and rail service would be cut by 20 percent on weekdays; and fares would be hiked by 31 percent.

Of course, dire warnings of fare hikes and service cuts are almost a ritual harbinger of spring in Philadelphia, as SEPTA seeks enough money from the legislature to balance its budget. But Moore insisted that the situation was more critical now.

At the same time, she held out hope that a permanent solution proposed last week by Gov. Rendell could be rolled out soon enough to save SEPTA. Rendell proposed a tax on oil company profits to help fund mass transit agencies across Pennsylvania, starting in March 2008.

Moore said SEPTA can't wait 13 months for the money.

"That's nine months into our fiscal year," she said. "If it comes about in March 2008, it does not give us adequate protection. . . . We have to be prepared to balance the SEPTA budget by July 1."

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com

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