• Harpers Ferry Station

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by RailVet
 
Recently I visited Harpers Ferry and noticed the parking lot at the station appears to be under the control of the National Park Service. A small box near the entrance to the parking lot contains envelopes on which drivers are supposed to enter the date, the number in their party, the amount enclosed, and their license plate number. After inserting the correct dollar amount ($4 per person or $6 per family/vehicle for three days), the envelope goes into a deposit box and a tear-off receipt goes face up on one's vehicle dashboard.

Q: Must MARC commuters and Amtrak passengers pay the NPS to park at the station? It certainly seems like it.
  by realtype
 
I don't know, you must be looking at the wrong lot. Most non-Metro operated MARC lots are free, including the one at Harpers Ferry according to the MARC website which states that the lot has 98 free spaces.

The station information page states that the lot is owned by "WV Rail," whoever that is.
  by RailVet
 
Interestingly enough, I first asked MARC and their emailed response reads: "I apologize but I can't answer this question. You will need to contact the Harpers Ferry Park Service for parking information." The station area isn't all that big so I don't think I'm confusing one parking lot for another.
  by MJRuef
 
This station has become decidedly user UN-Friendly, largely due to the NPS, which has also done a good job of making the residents of the area feel like criminals for wanting to enjoy their own comunity. It has gotten so bad that we are actually considering leaving the area. For instance, I commute to Chicago on an almost weekly basis on the Capitol Ltd. Getting dropped off is not bad, but getting picked up on a Saturday morning is quite unpleasant, as the NPS constantly harrasses and annoys my wife for simply trying to wait in her car to pick me up from the train. Lately we've taken to staging a car there for me the night before, and that works better, but why should rail patrons have to go to such a hassle to use their own community's train station? Perhaps Amtrak should change the stop to either Duffields or Brunswick which are both easily accessible and have plenty of parking. Since the area has developed a host of urban problems without any of the accompanying benefits, I think we'll just move to Chicago, moot the commuting, and have a host of decent restaurants to choose from.
  by dt_rt40
 
Is there a place near the station where the lot comes precipitously close to the track? Is there a crossing that doesn't have arms?
Around 2001 IIRC, the one time in my life I went there to take some pictures, I witnessed a hilarious spectacle. Walking across the footbridge we heard a train coming, but then it seemed to stop before crossing. A few minutes later, I headed toward the station, where there was already the sense of a building commotion. People including wait staff were coming out of restaurants in mid-meal to survey the scene. Something had happened. Well, right in front of the parking lot was a BMW smashed up against the front of a CSX loco. Some young middle-eastern guy in expensive looking clothing was shouting at the engineer that he "didn't know they were real train tracks". Apparently he thought they were just a civil war era "prop" and had parked his BMW on them! Anybody out there remember that incident? BTW I was using a rollfilm camera at the time and had used up all my film at the top of the little mountain...so I didn't take a picture!
  by RailVet
 
Some time after posting my original question, I found a National Park Service email address online, sent an email asking about parking at the station, and received a response noting that parking at the station was free, but they put out those envelopes in which to insert money and drop off in a collection box so those visiting the park could voluntarily help to pay for the cost of operating it. It was basically "there's no requirement to pay to park at the station, but we appreciate it if you do, and it's purely voluntary." I went out there yesterday (Sunday) morning and there was an NPS van and traffic cones set up in the parking lot, and a uniformed NPS employee was collecting $6 from everyone who pulled in. She didn't say "free for travelers," just $6 per car. I was dropping by to catch the passage of a few trains, including the eastbound Capitol Limited. I wasn't a ticketed passenger and I couldn't play that angle, so I didn't even bring it up. A few people came walking up with luggage to board the train, but I don't know if they lived nearby. I don't think they parked in the lot next to the station.

The parking lot was almost completely filled but only a handful of people were actually boarding the train. Most likely nearly every car in the parking lot had brought in visitors to the park, not the station, but the NPS wasn't letting those dollars get away from them.