POTTSTOWN — Taking mass transit from Pottstown to Philadelphia takes more than two hours, state Rep. Joe Ciresi learned this week.
He took the trip, joined by SEPTA officials and was joined in Collegeville, state Rep. Joe Webster, D-150th Dist., to make a point.
“It’s no secret that Route 422 resembles a parking lot rather than a road during commuter traffic hours,” Ciresi, D-146th Dist., said in a press release issued by his office.
“Even when Montgomery County residents opt to avoid traffic and ride mass transit, many in our community need to drive an hour or more to reach the nearest train — and SEPTA buses experience the same heavy traffic as cars.”
Ciresi has advocated for a return of commuter rail along existing rail lines along the Schuylkill River, but construction of a light passenger rail could cost more than $170 million.
For nearly a decade, hopeful rail riders watched with ever-sinking expectations as the projected price tag on the proposed Schuylkill Valley Metro between Reading and Norristown rose out of reach.
"There is not a person here who disagrees that putting a train back on those tracks would be a great solution," Ciresi said during an April town hall at the Pottstown campus of Montgomery County Community College.
"But we can't wait any longer," he said.
At that same town hall, Peter Newman, a professor of sustainability at Australia's Curtin University, detailed how trackless trams, like those implemented in his country, could be built for just $30 million for a station, three cars and 10-mile line.
Newman noted that 240 people commute to work in 177 cars, three buses, or in one tram.
Ciresi and his staff are laying the groundwork for a Congestion Relief Options Study while a funding source is identified. The study would examine previous analyses along the Route 422 corridor, identify potential transit options, and include a pre-feasibility analysis, according to the release from his office.
“Fewer mass transit options results in more cars on the road, which creates more headaches for everyone involved,” Ciresi said.
To illustrate those headaches, Ciresi took to the streets.
He traveled from his home in Limerick to a SEPTA bus station in the Montgomery County Community College West Campus in Pottstown.
After boarding a bus at 7:20 a.m., he traveled to the Norristown Transportation Center. During the journey, Ciresi was joined by Rep. Webster, who boarded the bus in Collegeville.
The two state lawmakers were joined by SEPTA officials and eventually boarded a train for Philadelphia. The trip took two hours and 15 minutes to travel to Suburban Station in Center City Philadelphia.
“There are no easy solutions, but I’m committed to working with city, county and state officials and agencies to improve the situation, Ciresi said.”