SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Branch

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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby BuddCar711 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:48 am

PhilliesPhan2013 wrote:Uh oh! Looks like I'm picking up on the local accent. I'm beginning to lose my Philly/Delco identity lol! This may be slightly off topic, but one thing I dislike about the Valley though is its lack of Wawas. I miss driving down MacDade Blvd and having a cluster of Wawas to choose from. It's something I'm still getting accustomed to :/


Don't you have Turkey Hills over there?
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby PhilliesPhan2013 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:51 pm

BuddCar711 wrote:
PhilliesPhan2013 wrote:Uh oh! Looks like I'm picking up on the local accent. I'm beginning to lose my Philly/Delco identity lol! This may be slightly off topic, but one thing I dislike about the Valley though is its lack of Wawas. I miss driving down MacDade Blvd and having a cluster of Wawas to choose from. It's something I'm still getting accustomed to :/


Don't you have Turkey Hills over there?


I know there's one in Easton, but I mainly stay in Bethlehem due to my lack of a car. I've mainly seen these Turkey Hill places near and around Hershey Park, and around Harrisburg. Nevertheless, no store on this planet even comes close to Wawa!
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby ekt8750 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:13 pm

There's a Turkey Hill in Coopersburg on 309 but yeah a tad far for you. If you haven't experienced Sheetz yet there's a few up there. Really good food.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby AlexC » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:34 pm

Unless you're talking about Wawa on the Media line, convenience stores are off-topic. Use google to find them.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby Trails to Rails » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:09 am

Is the time or the hassle that matter’s most?

Commuters try to fool themselves into believing their commute time is really shorter than it is. I know because I commuted daily from Stroudsburg to NYC via car and later bus and from the Lehigh Valley to Philly via car, occasionally bus and a few times by train from Colmar. What NON commuters and many commuters or potential commuters conveniently forget is a bus or car is a NON-stop ride point-to-point and in the case of a car DOESN’T include getting to a station early enough to find parking and not miss your bus or train. A car also offers the flexibility to go off-route, which trains can’t and buses cannot always do. Bottom line: in most long distance commute situations a car or bus results almost 100% of the time in a shorter average commute INCLUDING traffic jams.

The Martz bus I rode from Stroudsburg took about 2 hours on average to get into the city because it was full, didn’t have to stop, and because Martz was a privately owned company that was NOT obliged by law or tariff to stop in any town that felt it was owed “bus service”. The train we kept hearing was coming back OVER 20 YEARS AGO would have had to make MANY stops in Jersey and possibly would have required a transfer to get into Manhattan. The result, a much longer point-to-point commute every day and probably more expensive.

The same deal goes with Philly. 1.5 to 2 hours from the Valley to Philadelphia by car and slightly longer on a bus because most of them make at least one extra stop. Any remotely feasible Lehigh Valley train at this point would leave from Quakertown or Shelly. Take a drive to Quakertown, especially from Allentown, Bethlehem or points north in the morning and ask yourself if it is worth adding 20-30 minutes commute time to get to there, waiting for a train that would almost invariably stop at every little town on the way to Lansdale, making a train or motive power change at Lansdale and THEN taking a HOUR ride (if it is an express) from Lansdale to the city. Want to venture how long much longer that total commute would be? Even in the days of the Reading, the schedules showed at least a two hour ride from Bethlehem to Reading Station and I have believe SEPTA would take longer since their schedules from Lansdale & Colmar are a longer ride today versus the Reading.

Oh yes, and then we have the “where does the train leave me off” factor. When I commuted to NYC by bus, I had to walk from the Port Authority to my office, which was at 47th & 5th and later at 29th & 10th. Not too bad but there was another 15 minutes and if I had stuff to schlep it was a pain. If I felt like it, I could splurge for a cab but that was another $6 or $7. Many folks on the bus weren’t so lucky. The worked downtown, or in Brooklyn or Queens and had to take the subway adding almost another hour to their commuting time and more money. In Philly, if you don’t work within a reasonable walk from Suburban/Market East or 30th Street you are out of luck. Maybe that’s why there aren’t a ton of busses daily from the LV to Philadelphia.

When we had the huge blizzard in 1993, for about a month I took Bieber from Coopersburg to Philly because my office was on Callowhill Street, which wasn’t plowed completely so I couldn’t get access to my office parking garage. Every day I took that bus which took longer than me driving, AND I had to walk from 30th Street Station where the bus let us off to 28th & Callowhill and later to 2nd & Callowhill. I was spending over 7 hours a day commuting that winter!!

In reality, only a select few commuters would really benefit time-wise from restored Quakertown rail service and surely, that wouldn’t be enough riders to subsidize the service. Commuters who would deal with losing time to avoid the “hassles” would rethink their decision after getting up at 4:00 am and getting home at 8:00 pm every night got old. In addition, we have had several generations of commuters that are used to getting in their car at home and driving to work or school, not getting wet standing on a train platform when it rains or freezing when it’s cold and not waiting on someone else’s schedule to leave or get home.

They are the same folks I didn’t see on the Bieber bus in Coopersburg during the winter of 1993.

Finally, as a former Delco resident and now a Lehigh Valley resident for well over 20 years, ANYTHING I see that keeps masses of Philadelphians from turning the Valley into another trashed suburb of Philadelphia is a good thing!! The New Yorkers & Jersey garbage have done enough damage already.

The great news is there isn’t a chance in hell the train will ever appear again in my lifetime and probably none of yours either!
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby Suburban Station » Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:25 pm

trashed suburbs? not every suburb is delco trash. was the lehigh valley a trashed suburb of philadelphia when it had rail service or is that just more nonsense? the time is right for rail restoration to the lehigh valley in a trip time competitive manner whether its via septa or amtrak. seems to me a trip faster than is possible by car isnt unattainable
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby BuddCarToBethlehem » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:15 pm

trackwelder wrote:
loufah wrote:Do Lehigh Valley residents want to go to Philadelphia or would they rather have rail service to NJ and NYC?


having lived in bethlehem for a year, the answer is an emphatic YES, NO, BOTH, and NEITHER.


That's pretty astute for only living here a year. I've been here my whole life and agree. However, you had to be around in '81 when the service ended. Most people either didn't care or didn't notice. In fact, you would be surprised about how many people were completely unaware that there was daily train service to Philly, and I'm talking people in 1980 not today. Besides, the train took too long, only went to Reading Terminal, the Fern Rock station was on Godfrey Ave. then so you couldn't switch to the Broad St. Subway without endangering your wallet or your life, and the Budd cars were a maintenance mess for Conrail and SEPTA. It was sort of like a neighbor putting down his 18 year old dog that couldn't walk anymore. Eventually weeks or months later you finally realize that his dog isn't around anymore, and when he tells you why you think that was probably for the best. Same could be said for the train service. Of course to be fair back then the train was convenient if you wanted to go to East Market St. I've always felt that ridership would have been higher if the Center City Tunnel had opened in '74 instead of '84.

Besides SEPTA can't go less than three miles without losing millions of dollars and accomplishing nothing.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby PhilliesPhan2013 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:35 pm

BuddCarToBethlehem wrote:
trackwelder wrote:
loufah wrote:Do Lehigh Valley residents want to go to Philadelphia or would they rather have rail service to NJ and NYC?


having lived in bethlehem for a year, the answer is an emphatic YES, NO, BOTH, and NEITHER.


That's pretty astute for only living here a year. I've been here my whole life and agree. However, you had to be around in '81 when the service ended. Most people either didn't care or didn't notice. In fact, you would be surprised about how many people were completely unaware that there was daily train service to Philly, and I'm talking people in 1980 not today. Besides, the train took too long, only went to Reading Terminal, the Fern Rock station was on Godfrey Ave. then so you couldn't switch to the Broad St. Subway without endangering your wallet or your life, and the Budd cars were a maintenance mess for Conrail and SEPTA. It was sort of like a neighbor putting down his 18 year old dog that couldn't walk anymore. Eventually weeks or months later you finally realize that his dog isn't around anymore, and when he tells you why you think that was probably for the best. Same could be said for the train service. Of course to be fair back then the train was convenient if you wanted to go to East Market St. I've always felt that ridership would have been higher if the Center City Tunnel had opened in '74 instead of '84.

Besides SEPTA can't go less than three miles without losing millions of dollars and accomplishing nothing.


Wow! It sounds like SEPTA/Reading/Conrail service to the Valley wasn't all that good back in the 1970s. I can understand why as I have read that Reading deferred maintenance on many of its routes, which is why RailWorks needed to be initiated. I have also read that they had dilapidated equipment.

Going by what you said, do you think that Bethlehem service could be feasible with an aggressive advertising strategy by SEPTA, new DMUs or dual-mode MUs and possibly new bilevel coaches, and a more prominent station? I have read that the old Bethlehem station was run down, unsafe, and that the parking lot consisted of a rock bed. I don't know what the Allentown station was like, however. Also, would you happen to know why Valley-bound trains didn't stop at Easton?

We also now have the Commuter Tunnel, as well as a covered connection to the BSL at Fern Rock Station. Could this possibly be attractive to some Valley commuters? There is no longer a need to walk from Reading Terminal to Suburban Station.

It was awesome to get some insight from someone who has actually experienced the line and how it was ran!
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby BuddCar711 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:18 pm

PhilliesPhan2013 wrote:We also now have the Commuter Tunnel, as well as a covered connection to the BSL at Fern Rock Station. Could this possibly be attractive to some Valley commuters? There is no longer a need to walk from Reading Terminal to Suburban Station.


Or 30th Street for that matter.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby BuddCarToBethlehem » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:29 pm

PhilliesPhan2013 wrote:Going by what you said, do you think that Bethlehem service could be feasible with an aggressive advertising strategy by SEPTA, new DMUs or dual-mode MUs and possibly new bilevel coaches, and a more prominent station? I have read that the old Bethlehem station was run down, unsafe, and that the parking lot consisted of a rock bed. I don't know what the Allentown station was like, however. Also, would you happen to know why Valley-bound trains didn't stop at Easton?

We also now have the Commuter Tunnel, as well as a covered connection to the BSL at Fern Rock Station. Could this possibly be attractive to some Valley commuters? There is no longer a need to walk from Reading Terminal to Suburban Station.


DMU’s would be impractical. Despite pleas, the CCT was built without ventilation for diesel engines. So one would have to transfer which didn't work for the short lived Quakertown shuttle in '81 and the Newtown-Fox Chase line in '82. Check out this article (http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/02/2 ... expansion/) and my comments about it. In the ‘70’s the most anyone could accomplish on a train was reading and writing. Now you can get a lot more done. Who wants to pack up everything and step outside into 90° or 10° weather to switch trains? Duel modes like the ALP-45DP could be an answer as long as the grades along the Bethlehem Branch don’t have an adverse effect on the acceleration. Also clearance issues have to be determined before committing to bi-level coaches.

Union Station was the definition of urban blight for decades. The parking lot which I think was either gravel or poorly maintained asphalt is now covered by the new 2nd St. ramp. After the canopy collapsed on the center platform, most people waited under the original 2nd St. ramp. I also remember signs telling people to park at their own risk. The Allentown stop was the old LV platform at the site of the razed LV passenger station. RJ Corman uses the line to access their yard north of Linden St in Allentown.

The Reading didn’t have to go to Easton. First of all, the Lehigh Valley went there from Union Station. Also the Jersey Central served Easton, and since the Reading controlled CNJ, they affectively did serve Easton. But if you look at the bridge across the Lehigh, it goes the northwest towards Allentown. Trains would have to turn around or at least the engine would.

The connection at Fern Rock is a peculiar thing. Built for the railworks project in the ‘90’s it seems to have limited usefulness. I’ve never understood why Phillies fans get off there. Wait until you reach Suburban and now you don’t have to wait outside for the subway. Unless you have to go somewhere between Fern Rock and north of North Phila. Stations, might as well get off at North Broad or Temple U. stops. I haven’t seen any data, but I’m willing to venture a guess that most Lehigh Valley area commuters don’t work in the city, but do work in the Philly suburbs, since that’s where the office parks are located.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby Suburban Station » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:35 pm

BuddCarToBethlehem wrote:
trackwelder wrote:
loufah wrote:Do Lehigh Valley residents want to go to Philadelphia or would they rather have rail service to NJ and NYC?


having lived in bethlehem for a year, the answer is an emphatic YES, NO, BOTH, and NEITHER.


That's pretty astute for only living here a year. I've been here my whole life and agree. However, you had to be around in '81 when the service ended. Most people either didn't care or didn't notice. In fact, you would be surprised about how many people were completely unaware that there was daily train service to Philly, and I'm talking people in 1980 not today. Besides, the train took too long, only went to Reading Terminal, the Fern Rock station was on Godfrey Ave. then so you couldn't switch to the Broad St. Subway without endangering your wallet or your life, and the Budd cars were a maintenance mess for Conrail and SEPTA. It was sort of like a neighbor putting down his 18 year old dog that couldn't walk anymore. Eventually weeks or months later you finally realize that his dog isn't around anymore, and when he tells you why you think that was probably for the best. Same could be said for the train service. Of course to be fair back then the train was convenient if you wanted to go to East Market St. I've always felt that ridership would have been higher if the Center City Tunnel had opened in '74 instead of '84.
.


I think the Keystone model is a good one for the Lehigh Valley. Can you not run from 30th st to Bethlehem via Wayne Jct (isn't this what they did during rail works?). Trains to the Lehigh Valley then would be loco hauled, make few stops, and offer transfers at 30th st (maybe they could even run through to washington at least some of the time). As I understand it the railroad was in terrible shape in those days which is probably why SEPTA regional rail ridership is at a multidecade high despite the loss of jobs in center city...and that was before the new capital funding. that said SEPTA's expansion model seems ot be "we're running the optimal railroad now, anything different will destabilize that and cause of to lose millions of dollars"
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby glennk419 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:59 am

Suburban Station wrote: I think the Keystone model is a good one for the Lehigh Valley. Can you not run from 30th st to Bethlehem via Wayne Jct (isn't this what they did during rail works?). Trains to the Lehigh Valley then would be loco hauled, make few stops, and offer transfers at 30th st (maybe they could even run through to washington at least some of the time). As I understand it the railroad was in terrible shape in those days which is probably why SEPTA regional rail ridership is at a multidecade high despite the loss of jobs in center city...and that was before the new capital funding. that said SEPTA's expansion model seems ot be "we're running the optimal railroad now, anything different will destabilize that and cause of to lose millions of dollars"


There is no longer a direct connection from 30th Street to CSX as was used during Railworks since the connection at ZOO interlocking was severed several years ago when the interlocking was reconfigured..
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby Clearfield » Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:34 pm

glennk419 wrote:There is no longer a direct connection from 30th Street to CSX as was used during Railworks since the connection at ZOO interlocking was severed several years ago when the interlocking was reconfigured..


True, but the geometry makes reconnection physically easy. Politically (NS vs. AMTRAK) is an other story.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby NorthPennLimited » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:42 pm

CSX owns the high line.

After the ConRail merger in 1999, CSX found out they were on the hook for maintaining the crossovers from the High Line to the K ladder. Since they have no legitimate business purpose for accessing the NYP line or Harrisburg Line from Zoo interlocking, they tore out the switches and made the home signal an automatic signal by the plug door detector.

They still maintain the Amtrak connection track from the west end of the high line (compass south) from Arsenal to Phil, but they also have no business on the NEC. Trackage rights by the NS make it just feasible to maintain the connecting track to Phil at 10mph standards.

IMO, Running a southbound from Bethlehem to 30th St via the blue line - Belmont - zoo would be a waste of time since most of the track geometry will only support 20mph - 30mph trains. While that's still competitive with the Schuylkill Expressway during rush hour, it can't compete with trains running Wayne Junction to 30th St via the tunnel.

I'm sure CSX and NS aren't interested in running commuter trains through a vital choke point from Nicetown to Belmont with the boom in container and oil business......Unless SEPTA buys the trackage and gets the freight railroads off the hook for maintenance, liability, dispatching, and property taxes.
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Re: SEPTA Needs to Restore Full Service to the Bethlehem Bra

Postby Suburban Station » Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:15 pm

Clearfield wrote:
glennk419 wrote:There is no longer a direct connection from 30th Street to CSX as was used during Railworks since the connection at ZOO interlocking was severed several years ago when the interlocking was reconfigured..


True, but the geometry makes reconnection physically easy. Politically (NS vs. AMTRAK) is an other story.

they've been able to work togther well in other places (VA) so I suspect that it not an issue provided the state pay for the work.
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