Saturday, February 1, 2014

Next Stop: King of Prussia

SEPTA is taking another look at our region's black hole of public transportation: King of Prussia. The vast land of office parks and strip mall is one of Philadelphia's only experiment in rambling suburban sprawl and, like all of Atlanta, has proven to be a planning disaster.

Since the Schuylkill Expressway carved its way through our neighboring hills, commuters have traveled to and from Philadelphia and King of Prussia bound by a granite cliff and the river, with no way to expand. Perhaps that's for the best, forcing the region to do what it once did best, finally expanding its railroad infrastructure.

Of course with a name like Connection 2035, SEPTA's lofty plan for a Norristown Extension may come to fruition just around the time that I don't care anymore. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate thinking long term. But there's a fine line between planning ahead and tentatively scheduling a project that takes longer to build than a Pharaoh's pyramid.

Politics play a huge role in rail planning. Just ask Miami. That doesn't make planning a new rail line futile, but it does make it complicated and factors into our realistic expectations.

America's cultural attitude towards public transportation and our dependence on cars is changing. In the Northeast we've always had decent relationship with rail transportation and it's getting better. That's hopeful. Politics aside, if King of Prussia continues to grow, things will need to change, and a SEPTA rail stop in King of Prussia is emerging as the only reasonable solution.

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