The violent thunderstorm that swept over Greater Philadelphia Tuesday evening, disrupting all modes of travel during the evening rush, has apparently let the magic smoke out of at least six area rail lines. The most serious outage is PATCO, which is entirely without electric power and does not expect restoration until after the morning rush.
New Jersey Transit buses will have three extra burdens this morning, since in addition to cross-honoring PATCO fares and contending with detours around storm-damaged roads, they will be carrying passengers from the Atlantic City line, which also remains suspended. NJT has, in its usual inimitable way, been less communicative about what is wrong with the ACRL and when they expect it to be fixed. The only statement that affirmatively said that service would remain bustituted through the morning was a tweeted @-reply:
And on the PA side of the river, SEPTA is reporting that the Media/Elwyn and Fox Chase Lines are out entirely, the Paoli/Thorndale Line is out west of Malvern, and the Norristown High Speed Line will be suspended between Norristown and Radnor. The NHSL outage is the only one that has been definitively stated that it will last through the morning. Also, bus routes may be on detour due to debris. As usual, the most up-to-date information can be found on SEPTA’s eye-bleedingly designed system status page.
Tomorrow and Sunday will be the second weekend out of six of bustitution on the Chestnut Hill West Line for a track maintenance blitz. Catching up to this project six days after it’s started disrupting travel is a new low for timeliness on this blog, which I’m sure that this summer-of-moving will see surpassed, ironically even as SEPTA Regional Rail itself is maintaining high standards for on-time performance.
Shuttle buses are running an inner zone/outer zone pattern, with the cutoff between Allens Lane and Carpenter stations (confirming, if there was any doubt, that Intermediate ridership on the CHW is presently negligible). Trains are meeting buses and turning at North Philadelphia station; times on Fox Chase trains are affected on Saturdays but normal on Sundays. Canny riders with passes may wish to opt for the Broad Street Line between Suburban Station/City Hall and North Philadelphia, although that connection is not guaranteed.
SEPTA also suggests the Chestnut Hill East Line as an alternate, but no extra service is running, in another missed opportunity; the four outer zone stations (CHW, Highland, St Martin’s, and Allen Lane) are less than 15 minutes walk from CHE stations. SEPTA could have had a natural experiment in what 30 minute headways on weekends did to CHE ridership, under the guise of saving a bus and a driver for the shuttle operation. (The details would be more complicated than that, due to the legalities regarding the presence of ADA accessible stations on the CHW line, but the concept still holds.)
The Saturday bustitution schedule is here (PDF).
The Sunday bustitution schedule is here (PDF).
Outbound Fox Chase trains run 10 minutes later than scheduled on SATURDAYS ONLY.