Save Cornwells Heights
Friday, August 26, 2005; revised 8/27
Good morning, CWH commuters! We are now on the Internet!
I would polish this page up more, but it’s 3 a.m., and I finally got both the web site download and the e-mail reception worked out.
In case you hadn’t heard yet, Amtrak is planning on “abandoning” the Cornwells Heights commuter station stop in October, but they haven’t notified the public yet. Even as I write, the clock is ticking towards a stealth shutdown. But some good politicians are on our side now, and there’s a good chance we can stop the clock.
You can e-mail me anything you like now, anything you think might help the cause, here at email@example.com. We’re especially in need of the following sort of testimonials:
1) “Gee, I’d lived here for XX years YY miles from the station and never even realized that Amtrak stopped there.”
2) “Gee, I’d lived here for XX years YY miles from the station and never even realized we had a train station.”
3) “Gee, if I’d known Amtrak stopped in Bensalem I wouldn’t have driven up to Trenton XX times per YY to catch a train.”
4) “I would rather stick XX in my eyes than drive into Trenton.”
By Monday morning, this web site should look much more professional.
My current thinking is that our strongest defense is to get the word out to the Northeast Corridor commuter community that there is a fantastic place to commute from in Pennsylvania, as little as 62 minutes from Penn Station, where the parking is copious and free (approximately 800 parking spaces still unused in our park-and-ride lot), where there are over 200 brand new luxury homes starting at $465,000 being built five minutes from the station (most of them still available), and where the finest fruits of Philadelphia are minutes away. We few have discovered the “commuting sweet spot” where affordable living, comfortable commuting (on Amtrak!), and the yards and parks of suburbia coincide within thirty minutes of the art galleries, museums, and sports arenas of Philadelphia. It’s all good.
So why haven’t we been discovered by New York commuters? Because you can’t find a commuting map or schedule virtually anywhere in Penn Station that even shows that we exist. Almost all the available literature there regarding the Northeast Corridor Line stops at Trenton – because New Jersey Transit supplies the literature. They forgot to tell New York about the sweetest spot for commuting anywhere between Philadelphia and New York City. We’ve been so hidden that 800 free, easy-access parking spaces off I-95 in Bensalem were never discovered by New York commuters. Nobody ever told them they were here for the taking.
Commuting is getting increasingly terrible all the way from Trenton to Princeton Junction. It takes four years to get a reserved lot parking space at Princeton, and the unreserved lot fills by 6:30 a.m. Then traffic diverts to Hamilton Station farther south, where the lot fills by 8:30. And after 8:30, if you want to park and take a train, you go to the concrete maws of the garages at Trenton, seven stories each, and maybe even feel grateful if you can park below the fifth floor.
We of the Cornwells Heights brigade prefer not to join that rat race. I, myself, usually roll out of bed about 7:15, leave the house at 7:50, park my car at the station at 7:58, step aboard a free parking lot shuttle bus at 7:59 to be greeted by a friendly driver who knows I want to go to the north-bound platform without even asking, and arrive at the north-bound platform around 8:04, with seven minutes to spare before catching the 8:11 Amtrak to New York. In the comfortable, reclining Amtrak seats, I often catch a few more Z’s, or sometimes flip down the lap tray and write e-mails, or maybe read a book, or just enjoy the scenery for an hour. (There are beautiful white cranes to watch out for in the marshes between Newark and New York, and it’s always nice to catch sight of them in a moment of flight, or dipping their heads below the water for their morning repast.) At 9:29, I’m in New York City. At 9:50, I’m in the office.
It’s not bad at all. And even though the shortest reverse Amtrak run is scheduled at 62 minutes, I’ve seen it done in 59, when the Trenton commuters do their competitive bolt out of the coaches, heading for their gasoline-powered cars, and the train slips away early out over the Delaware to beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Few of them know that had they just relaxed for another 11 minutes, they could have been at the Cornwells Heights Station in Bensalem, where a big, free park-and-ride helps get me, for instance, personally, home – literally to my house – about the same time that the last of the disgorged Trenton commuters rolls up to one of the stop lights outside Trenton Station. On the whole, I’m sure he or she would be happier not to know.
It makes vastly more sense to simply tell the New Yorkers that Cornwells Heights exists than to close it down simply because someone forgot to tell them. With gas prices headed skyward, shouldn’t we all be thinking of ways to drive less and enjoy more?
As for the latest news, there is ongoing progress on the political front. Things are moving. Calls are being made. The station questionnaires are working. And now may also be the time to start e-mailing the URL of this site to anyone who might be interested in great New York City commuting.
Check back over the weekend as this site may get more interesting – hopefully much more interesting – by Monday rush!
Take care, and I’ll see you at the station. Today I’ll ride the 8:11. Time to get back to work!