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This article has been updated to include new cost details from the Office of Emergency Management.
The shuttles being commissioned for City of Philadelphia employees during the SEPTA strike? Taxpayers are footing some of that bill, to the tune of about $20,000 per day.
Noëlle Foizen, deputy director for public affairs at the Office of Emergency Management confirmed to Billy Penn Wednesday that the shuttle cost has been added to the city budget. Concerns over releasing the estimated charges for the shuttles is a matter of accuracy, though, she says: The bus contract has different pricing tiers based on how long they’re in use. Plus, city employees and police are chipping in on the effort, cutting down on some costs. “We don’t know how close the [current] estimates will be to the actual cost,” Foizen told Billy Penn. The city will release financial figures post-strike.
But OEM Director Samantha Phillips followed up late Thursday morning with some basics:
“We can share that the cost of the shuttles (12 buses and drivers) is averaging out to be approximately $20,000 per day. This can fluctuate based on the total number of hours of service. This figure is preliminary and doesn’t include the cost of personnel and other materials/supplies. The materials and supplies include signs, cell phones, traffic cones, and other miscellaneous items. The cost for all of these items is nominal.”
“The timing of the transit disruption provided short notice for employees to make other arrangements,” Foizen said in an email. “Due to this, the City felt it was important to develop a plan that supported continuity of government. Our commitment is to maintain city services and ensure the city remained open for business. As part of our continuity of operations planning, employee transportation is key to ensure we do not have to close City government.”
The Philly government fleet counts 12 buses and six vans “running continuously” through rush hour in the morning and evening. They mirror the MFL and the BSL, with shuttles going from City Hall heading North, South, East and West. Some 1,440 city workers and jurors took the shuttles Tuesday; 1,997 used the shuttles Wednesday.