SEPTA mulls rail service to King of Prussia, Valley Forge

DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER SEPTA will unveil a new transit option for shoppers and sightseers itching to visit the King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge National Historic Park.
DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER SEPTA will unveil a new transit option for shoppers and sightseers itching to visit the King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge National Historic Park.
Posted: July 16, 2013

WILL THOUSANDS OF workers finally be able to ride high-speed rail to King of Prussia and Valley Forge instead of a bus that relies on the Jekyll/Hyde, highway to heaven/hell, Russian-roulette insanity of I-76 traffic?

SEPTA will reveal plans for long-awaited rail service to King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge at a four-hour public meeting tomorrow.

Several alternative extensions of the Norristown High Speed Line to King of Prussia and Valley Forge will be presented. Public comment is invited.

This "scoping meeting" at the Radisson Hotel Valley Forge - open house at 4 p.m.; presentation at 6 p.m. - is an early stage of the federal process for new-start rail service.

Rich Burnfield, SEPTA's chief financial officer, told the Daily News that the need for high-speed rail service to the King of Prussia/Valley Forge area couldn't be clearer.

There were 57,100 jobs in Upper Merion Township in 2010 - including 12,500 jobs at King of Prussia Mall and its vicinity, and 19,000 jobs in the area's many office parks.

Weekday bus ridership to and from King of Prussia Mall averages 4,000 daily.

All these numbers are steadily rising.

King of Prussia Mall attracts 68,000 people daily (25 million visits per year), while Valley Forge National Historical Park gets 1.5 million visits per year.

The only alternative now to driving on often-jammed highways is taking SEPTA buses - including the heavily used 123, 124 and 125 - on the same often-jammed highways.

"You are totally dependent on highway traffic as to whether it's a 20-minute or a one-hour ride," Burnfield said. "High-speed rail directly to King of Prussia/Valley Forge would provide a much better level of service."

Even if riders take the Norristown High Speed Line now, they end up on a bus for the final leg of the trip.

Extending the Norristown High Speed Line, including alongside Route 202 or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, to King of Prussia/Valley Forge, Burnfield said, would give thousands of riders a much faster, environmentally sound alternative.


On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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