Lot Ridin' On Park 'N'-ride

Posted: July 29, 1996

If you build it, they will come.

Even if there's no SEPTA station nearby?

Well, PennDOT hopes so.

We're talking here about another in a series of those increasingly popular transit phenoms - the park-and-ride lots situated near rail lines and major highway exits for suburban commuters who use public transportation or who car-pool.

Two weeks ago, amid much hoopla by PennDOT officials and local politicians, the latest - a 90-space parking lot in Conshohocken - got its formal, grand opening.

It's on Matson Ford Road, right near the intersection of the Blue Route (I-476) and the Schuylkill Expressway.

But it's not near any regional rail stations.

``No, it's not really near any public transit,'' said PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum.

PennDOT is hoping commuters will use the lot for motorists who car-pool to and from places like Center City, Blaum said. With its close proximity to two major freeways, other car-pooling possibilities might include the Poconos (the Turnpike is only a few miles north), the Jersey shore, Harrisburg, New York . . . even Philadelphia International Airport.

A couple of local civic groups specializing in transportation issues are studying the possibility of trying to get some kind of mass-transit service brought close to the newest Park and Ride.

Financially strapped SEPTA isn't likely to lend an ear.

Still, the lot will be user-friendly, with lots of lighting, a public phone and bike racks, Blaum said.

The civic groups - the Greater Valley Forge Traffic Management Association and the Delaware County Traffic Management Association - are also working with area businesses to market the lot's appeal to their employees.

Only a handful of cars used the lot during its first week, Blaum said. But he wasn't discouraged.

``Once the word gets out, we're hoping many more people will take advantage of it,'' he said.

Park-and-rides began about 20 years ago in other big cities. One of the more successful ones in the Philadelphia area is the first one, in Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County, near I-95's Yardley-New Hope interchange at Taylorsville and Woodside roads.

The 10.2-acre piece of township-owned land holds 166 vehicles, many of them left by owners who car-pool to New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Others there use New Jersey Transit's shuttle service to and from the Amtrak-NJT Trenton rail station.

Although it was opposed by residents, who feared an increase in crime and traffic, that hasn't been the case.

PennDOT's Mother of All Park-and-Rides, a planned 1,600-space lot adjacent to the lot for the Cornwells Heights Station on the Regional R7 Rail, has been under construction for a few months, but is still nearly two years from completion.

Other area park-and-ride lots include a 30-space lot on Route 422 at the Lewis Road interchange in Limerick, Montgomery County, and a 2,000-space park-and-ride which has been proposed for Crum Lynne in Delaware County but which has been stymied by lack of a suitable site.

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