Save Cornwells Heights


Friday, October 14, 2005


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Latest New Cornwells Heights Train Schedule Expected As Of  October 31, 2005


For about a week now, Amtrak has been posting a new online schedule for Cornwells Heights service, to take effect on Monday, October 31st.  The posted schedule is almost the same as what an Amtrak officer recited to me over the phone 11 days ago, the one difference being that at the time he was speaking, he believed our second return train would run at 6:09 instead of 6:30.  A schedule change paper distributed on some trains last month seemed to indicate that the 8:11 a.m. Keystone to New York and the 3:40 p.m. Keystone from New York would both still be running to Cornwells Heights.  It is not clear yet whether or not they might still be stopping for us.


From Cornwells Heights to New York City


From New York City to Cornwells Heights


All trains stop at Newark.  Half skip Trenton (trains 180 and 193).  None stop at Princeton Junction.  Train #630 is expected to change its run to approximately a 6:30-leaving-to-7:32-arrival schedule after track work on the Harrisburg line is completed some unknown number of months down the line.


Last Chance To Buy “Cheap” Monthly Passes Ends at Close of Business Tomorrow, October 15th


I’ve heard sporadic reports of commuters being told they could not buy monthly passes more than one month in advance.  This has apparently happened at both Penn Station in Manhattan and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.  In some cases, this may sometimes be a matter of having a ticket agent who just doesn’t know how to order up tickets more than one month in advance.  As far as I can tell, this is not a general Amtrak policy at this time, and some ticket agents will still sell far in advance.  The Trenton Amtrak ticket office is still a convenient option for advance monthly pass purchases, and they’re open on Saturday.


The battle of the fare hike – the one that threatens to drive many monthly pass holders away from our station, or else onto SEPTA/NJT – will continue, but for the next few months, Amtrak will probably get away with it.  Due to the fare hike, simply crossing the Delaware from Trenton costs an extra $6,000/year in base price for single-train-ride commuters (Amtrak vs. NJT).  That doesn’t seem right, and with continued political pressure, maybe it can be fixed some months down the line.  We’ll keep working on it.


– Rick



[The articles below were originally posted on 9/28/2005.]


Amtrak to Hike Cornwells Heights Monthly Pass Cost 57%


Amtrak announced yesterday that it would increase the cost of a monthly pass from Cornwells Heights to New York City from its present $555 to approximately $712 as of October 16th, and $870 as of February (most likely February 16th, but possibly earlier).  The ultimate rise to $870 will mean an extra annual outlay of $3780 per Cornwells Heights commuter using a monthly pass.  Another reprieve from the hikes, in the short term, may not be likely.


How You Can Protect Yourself From the Increase


Amtrak allows monthly passes to be purchased for up to 11 months in advance at current rates.  Therefore, up until October 16th, it should be possible to make advance purchases of all monthly passes needed for commuting through September, 2006.  The cost of buying 10 extra passes next month, in addition to the November pass, would be $5,550.  Monthly passes purchased but not used may be turned back in before the month in which they were to be used, and Amtrak refunds 90% of the purchase price under such circumstances.


What About Next Year?


Trenton commuters can still get monthly New Jersey Transit passes for $320.  A monthly Amtrak pass for the 104 miles of commute from Philadelphia to Harrisburg is currently $299, and will likely rise to only $469.  Commuters using New Jersey Transit trains to commute from little Campbell Hall in upstate New York, almost the same distance as our commute, pay $279.  Cornwells Heights, at $870, and Philadelphia itself, are in an odd commuting fare warp zone.  It is possible that the warp can be corrected within the next year with continued political effort.


More News And Commentary To Come…


There is much more that can and should be said about the impending Amtrak fare hike and the bizarre fare warp zone being experienced by New York City commuters south of the Delaware River.  More will be written here soon.


– Rick