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The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) late last week released its proposed 2016 operating budget, which is slated to grow to $1.36 billion, a 2.84 percent increase compared with 2015's budget.The new budget would maintain all current level of SEPTA services with no increase in fares, agency officials said in a press release.The budget also allows for the permanent implementation of 24-hour weekend service on the Broad Street Line subway and the Market-Frankford Line subway/elevated train, which were first launched as a part of a pilot program last year, officials said.Increased wages and benefits for SEPTA employees are included in the budget as well, SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said. "While labor represents the most significant and growing operating cost driver, SEPTA continues to implement cost-containment measures and identify new opportunities to generate alternative revenue," Casey wrote in the budget.To that end, the agency has deployed more than 15,000 cameras to help reduce fraudulent injury claims, he said. SEPTA is also looking into station naming rights opportunities and corporate partnerships to increase revenue.Casey also noted that regional rail ridership achieved a record 36.7 million trips in 2014, and the agency as a whole continued to see ridership growth over the past decade. SEPTA expects ridership to continue to grow, as unemployment levels in the area remain low, he added.The agency will hold public meetings April 20 to 24, during which citizens can provide feedback on the proposed budget.
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