Save Cornwells Heights
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Good morning, CWH commuters! This may be the last day that I can start the morning update with those words, because it looks like we will be very public tomorrow, and I’ll have to prepare for receiving the general readership of the Bucks County Courier Times. The Courier Times is planning on doing a major article about our battle for survival, expected to show up in tomorrow’s morning paper. In anticipation of that happening, I intend to revise the format of this site to accommodate the general public. (Though I’ve been a computer professional for 26 years, this is my first attempt at a website, so please bear with me.)
Before moving on, though, please remember those who are still suffering from the effects of hurricane Katrina, and, unfortunately, those who will suffer no more. The count will rise for weeks. New Orleans was spared the apocalypse of becoming a dead, wet, polluted, toxic wastedump, and there will be Mardi Gras yet to come, but in the hurricane’s sparing of New Orleans, others were made to suffer and die in places with names we do not know yet, and perhaps too many to remember. If our station comes to survive, especially, please consider sharing even a small portion of how much that is worth to you when the hat is passed for Katrina’s survivors. That said, on to today’s business:
I received a very helpful e-mail last night, pointing out some things I did not know, and some things that deserve research. I learned that Cornwells Heights once had weekend service, which was apparently discontinued before I began commuting here in April, 2001. If anyone has a recollection of when and maybe even why that part of our service was cancelled, or what sort of ridership it had, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I had been aware that many commuters were forced to abandon Cornwells Heights commuting when the 5:56 train was cut from station service this past spring during the oops-we-made-a-completely-unsafe-vehicle-here collapse of Acela. I had never gotten a handle on how many riders were lost then, suspecting it may have been about 30% of those who used the station, but the note I received indicated that daily ridership of that train may have typically been 30 to 50, most of whom have now vanished to Trenton or to the even earlier Septa trains. If you have a hunch as to how many we lost then, or an anecdote about people who no longer come to the station, please write to me about it at the previous e-mail address. That information is golden for making political and press hay.
There’s a ghost train scheduled to arrive and depart the station at 5:56 a.m. on October 31st, Halloween, the evening of All Hallows’ Day, as All Saints’ Day was once alternately known. The 5:56 that was lost last spring is scheduled to come back to life and to stay on that day – at least according to all of Amtrak’s printed and online schedules and all of their agents at 1-800-USA-RAIL. It will arrive in New York City at 7:13. But that is the day, according to Amtrak’s own private confessions, that no trains at all will come to our station. I believe that to fix the station, we have to get that train back, and the best way to do it may be to simply ask Amtrak to honor their own schedules or else face public wrath for their perfidy.
It is most fitting that the ghost train may come back to us on the eve of All Saints’ Day, for we do have a station saint of our own, you know. The shrine of Saint Katherine Drexel, canonized in 2000 as only the second American-born saint recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, is clearly visible on the heights above our giant, half-used park-and-ride, just on the other side of I-95. The turnoffs for her shrine and our station are side by side on Route 13, though separated by about a hundred yards or so. Now, I’m not Catholic, but this is all really, really cool. Not that Saint Katherine could ever have imagined her grace flowing downhill to a train station with a big, empty parking lot, it’s just possible – remotely possible – possible in the very strangest of ways – that she’s now got a miracle to spare. How else can anyone explain 800 free, empty parking spaces on the Northeast Corridor within 62 minutes of Manhattan? Amtrak can’t touch this.
In parting, here is one more thought to consider. Anyone currently commuting to a five-day-a-week job in New York through our station, driving in from Bensalem, Philadelphia, or points south, would have to drive about an extra 8,000 miles per year should they head for Trenton if and when our station closes. Between the cost of gas and the environmental impact of burning it, does this really make any sense at all? We’re going to have fun with Amtrak really soon.
Take care, and I’ll see you at the station.