Of Cars, Buses, Trolleys, Trains, Bicycles and Feet

Media Borough Councilwoman Joi Washington is probably the most active elected local official on social Media in the area. She tweets regularly about transportation and housing issues in the Media area. Her tweets got me thinking, how easily can you get other places from Garden City?

Ironically, Garden City owes its existence to the trolley lines that allowed workers to get from the suburb community to Media and Chester easily, where most of the local jobs were. But that trolley line has been gone for almost a century and Garden City has become a pretty inaccessible place if you don’t have a car. Since Garden City Manor is the only low-income portion of the township, it makes sense to try to figure out how you could get from there to some nearby locations: the closest shopping in Brookhaven, the many stores of Media, the shopping strip of Springfield Mall and Baltimore Pike, the smaller shops of Swarthmore and regional transportation. Unfortunately, the area of the township where people are least likely to be able to afford a car is the area furthest from the most reliable transportation options.

By Foot and Bicycle

Garden City to Springfield Mall for those that live dangerously.

The cheapest way to travel is by foot. I took to Google Maps and asked it how to get to these locations. In order to get to the stores in Brookhaven, one has to transit Brookhaven Rd., which has no sidewalk, crosswalks, or pedestrian features. Because cars regularly drive on the shoulder to get around traffic waiting at lights or turning, pedestrian travel is especially dangerous. To get to Media, one can travel up Providence Rd., which has a sidewalk the full length, and is due for further improvements soon. To get to Springfield Mall, Google tells us to travel down Brookhaven Rd., which has no sidewalks, to Plush Mills, which also has no sidewalks and across the narrow bridge between Springfield and Nether Providence which is a bad idea. To get to Swarthmore, it’s a trip down the new sidewalk on E. Rose Valley Rd. To get into Philly, one can walk to the Moylan, Wallingford, or Swarthmore train stations on the Media-Wawa line (as its now called). In general, traveling north-south in the township is easier than east-west. Providence Rd. and Wallingford Ave. both have sidewalks and the Leiper Trail runs along the Crum on the township’s eastern edge. Going E-W is harder as there’s no trail or sidewalk crossing that direction. E. Rose Valley goes up to Providence, but there’s no sidewalks west of Providence to travel on. Here in Garden City there’s a nice sidewalk along Chestnut which dead-ends at Waterville, making travel that direction to Brookhaven dangerous and dead-ends before Chester City, although most of Chester’s businesses are on the other side of I-95, so quite a walk. Likewise, there’s a new sidewalk on Moore going up to Brookhaven, where again, there’s nowhere safe to walk – its better to parallel Brookhaven in the communities nearby.

Garden City to Media. Biking on Providence Rd. is not great, but there are sideroads and cut-throughs to avoid it.

Biking has many of the same issues as traveling by foot. The old sidewalk on Providence is too narrow in places to easily bike but the Wallingford Ave sidewalk is fantastic. The new E Rose Valley Rd. sidewalk has been a disappointment, because of the compromises to build it, it has many sudden turns where it ramps down to cross streets making it awkward to bike along. It’s also awkward that it doesn’t connect to anything. There’s no sidewalks on either Meadow or W. Rose Valley and neither feel particularly safe to walk along near Providence.

By Bus

There are four SEPTA bus routes in the area and bus trips cost $2.50. The most useful is probably the SEPTA 109 bus running from the Chester transportation center to the 69th street station in Upper Darby. One could walk from Garden City to Providence Rd. and catch the bus to Swarthmore or the Springfield Mall. This bus runs every 20-30 minutes from 3:53 am until 9:30 pm, with hourly service after that until 2:20 am. There is no service to Springfield Mall between 1:30 am and 6 am (presumably because its closed). The bus runs slightly less frequently on Saturday and every 30 minutes – hour on Sunday, but it does run 7 days a week.

You can take a bus, but its not all that much faster than walking once you figure in a wait.

The 118 SEPTA bus is the closest route to the old Chester-Media trolley service and the only one that passes close to Garden City, running along Chestnut. It runs from Chester Transportation center up to Newtown Square. You can take this train to the Wallingford train station or Media Borough. However, it doesn’t run very often. It leaves from Chester every 40-50 minutes from 6:10 am to 6:35 pm on weekdays with a single bus running from Newtown Square to Chester at 10 pm for some reason (but no service the other direction). Saturdays the bus leaves hourly from 6:30 am until 5:30 pm with no Sunday service (and no 10 pm service the other direction). Relying on this bus to get to and from Media regularly would be a challenge.

The SEPTA 117 bus runs along Edgemont between the I-95 Industrial Park and Chester Transportation Center to the south to Penn State Brandywine in the north. You could probably most easily catch it by walking through Chester Park and going over the old bridge there on foot instead of risking death along Brookhaven. This route gets you to all the shopping along Edgemont as well as the Granite Run area including Elwyn Station and, of course, Penn State Brandywine. This route has schedules running 7 days a week.

The SEPTA 113 bus runs along MacDade connecting the 69th St. Station in Upper Darby to the Chester Transportation Center by way of Lansdowne and Darby. It’d be a bit of a walk to get there, you could walk through Houston Park to Providence Rd. and then head south to MacDade to take what is probably the most direct route if you want to avoid walking Chestnut without a sidewalk. This route has regular service 7-days a week, though not all buses stop at all stations.

By Rail

There are three rail services in the area with the regional rails having an overly complicated fee structure depending on where and when you’re going. The closest is the Media-Wawa regional rail line, which now runs from the new Wawa station in the west to Temple University in the city. This line runs through the Moylan, Wallingford and Swarthmore train stations. It has irregularly scheduled service from Wallingford from about 5 am until 11:20 pm going into the city and return service from 7:32 am until 12:25 am. The trains are frequent during commute times, but an hour apart in mid-day and the evening. Weekend service is from 6:25 am until 10:30 pm into the city or 7:10 am to 11:20 pm in the other direction with service every 1-2 hours.

SEPTA’s rail map showing the Wawa and Newark rail lines and the 101 trolley.

The SEPTA Newark-Wilmington line passes through the Chester Transportation Center. There’s not much reason to take that into Philadelphia – it goes to the same stations as the closer Media-Wawa line, but service the other direction to Wilmington and Newark could be useful. Trains are roughly hourly from Chester starting at 4:48 am until 11:03 pm out to Wilmington and returning between 5:45 am to 10:36 pm. There is weekend service every 1-2 hours between 6:30 am and 9:30 pm.

SEPTA’s Media-69th St. Transportation Center 101 Trolley is the other line and costs the same as a bus, but I’m not sure why anyone from Garden City would use it with bus services providing more direct routes to these destinations. It runs irregular service 15-30 minutes usually between 4 am and 1 am on weekdays with service about every half hour on weekends.

Categories: Ramblings