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Investment in Rail Service

Statement on Current Public Rail Services

Rail travel is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. The use of a single train can replace up to five hundred cars or up to one hundred trucks traveling on the major roadways throughout the country. It is estimated that operating trains on just two railroad tracks can carry as many passengers per hour as sixteen lanes of a major highway supports for automotive vehicles, while consuming only one-third of the land needed for highway infrastructure.

Investment in rail-based transportation generates jobs which, in turn, stimulates economic growth. While SEPTA has convinced Pennsylvania state legislators that investing in rail-based transportation is unaffordable - thereby resulting in the wholesale destruction of critical rail corridors throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania region - it is estimated by the American Public Transportation Association that every dollar spent on public transit services can generate as much as six dollars in both jobs and public benefits.

PA-TEC advises Pennsylvania residents to ask their local, state, and federal government representatives to support smarter funding of SEPTA. Moreover, PA-TEC urges legislators to mandate to SEPTA to terminate their various rails-to-trails leases - especially on the Ivy Ridge, Bethlehem, and Newtown rail corridors - and reactivate passenger and/or freight service badly needed throughout the greater Philadelphia area and beyond.

Submitted by:

President, PA-TEC

Move People - Move the Economy

Bucks County Pushing Newtown Trail Agenda

To date, the only township along SEPTA's Fox Chase-Newtown line to not endorse the conversion of SEPTA's railroad to a bicycle trail is Northampton Township. Most residents along that stretch of SEPTA's commuter rail corridor are opposed to the trail. On January 22, 2020, Northampton Township's Board of Supervisors held a presentation on the trail project prior to the endorsement of a "study". During the meeting, many residents vocally objected to the concept on the grounds of cost, liability and privacy. Despite this, the township board seemed to indicate that the trail would move forward regardless of taxpayer sentiment. In 2019, Upper Southampton aprroved the conversion.

While SEPTA, DVRPC, and political officials have written off any possibility of restoring commuter rail service on this corridor, it appears that the permanent riddence of this line as a mass transit asset is part of the agenda started in the 1970s to reduce this high grade piece of infrastructure to low grade use. The position of the Northampton Township board of supervisors confirms that the politicians do not care what the voters want and that they are taking orders from higer authorities.

We note this because until 2010, Bucks County had continued to endorse the reactivation of the Fox Chase-Newtown line as a vital transportation corridor to the municipalities in Bucks County that have little to no access to mass transit. Once the Bryn Athyn inspired and Montgomery County led charge to convert the line to a trail took hold, Bucks County, with the help of ex-Commissioner (and pal of SEPTA boss Pat Deon) Charley Martin who quashed any discussion of restoration of commuter service.

SEPTA Holland Regional Rail Station - 830 Holland Road Holland, Northampton Township, PA

Is There a Future for the Route 15 Rail Line?

SEPTA PCC-II Route 15 Trolley

Light rail service on SEPTA's Route 15 is suspended from January 25, 2020 until further notice. The line is being suspended due to failing rolling stock. In the early 2000's, SEPTA chose to rehabilitate 18 PCC cars for use on the line. The cars were reconditioned by Brookville, a then-unknown vendor. Only 18 cars were rebuilt while the line requires 15 cars at peak times.

It remains unseen how long the temporary "bus"-titution will be in effect on the line. Past failed promises on lines (such as Fox Chase-Newtown line) do not give much credit to SEPTA's promise of temporary suspension. In addition, SEPTA has no funding to modernize not only the trolley system with new cars but also level all the boarding stops across the system. Read More

Ex-SEPTA RDC Railcar in use for Vermont Commuter Rail

West Chester Commuter Rail Update

West Chester Railroad Operations

Over the past several years, interest amongst residents and elected officials in West Chester have been discussing options for restoring commuter rail service to West Chester. Unlike other abandoned SEPTA corridors, the West Chester branch is intact and operating, thanks to the West Chester railroad, who operates occasional tourist service between West Chester and Glen Mills. Read More

While West Chester would benefit from reactivated rail service, much of the line traverses sparsely populated areas and would attract little ridership between West Chester University and the future Wawa station. It remains unclear where funding for this project will come from.