In July, David Curtis — Wilmington resident and a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government — started a Change.org petition asking SEPTA to increase service to the Wilmington Train Station.
"This service upgrade is happening not because of my involvement, but because 1,700 people signed a petition demanding better service."
Currently, outside of the 5-8 p.m. rush hour, trains from Center City Philadelphia only stop at Wilmington once every two hours. Trains stop every hour at Marcus Hook — the last stop in Pennsylvania and two stops prior to Wilmington.
But all that is changing.
SEPTA recently released a new schedule, with updates to the Wilmington/Newark schedule.
We asked Curtis a few questions about the changes.
Talk about the SEPTA Wilmington upgrades. What changed?
There are two key changes that will take effect Monday, Dec. 15.
First, the 8:44 p.m. train from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station will connect to Wilmington instead of stopping at Marcus Hook. This train will then reverse at Wilmington and become the 9:58 p.m. train returning to Philadelphia. This upgrade is important because it closes a key two-hour service gap.
Second, the 3:21 p.m. local train from 30th Street Station to Newark will be split into two separate trains: a 3:14 p.m. express and a 3:18 p.m. local, both of which will serve Wilmington. This upgrade is important because the current configuration is prone to frequent delays, which should be less of an issue going forward.
How much interaction did you have with SEPTA to make the changes happen?
I spoke with SEPTA on multiple occasions and I also met with John Sisson at the Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC), the agency that pays for this service in Delaware. It’s important for readers to know that SEPTA and DTC are constantly reviewing service demands and looking for ways to increase ridership.
This service upgrade is happening not because of my involvement, but because 1,700 people signed a petition demanding better service.
There are still quite a few morning, mid-day, late-night, and weekend trains that don’t connect to Wilmington, so readers who want to see more service improvements should take this upgrade as an encouraging sign.
Go to septanow.com and sign the petition. There will be opportunities in coming months for additional upgrades.
Having more service to Wilmington — how do you hope this will change the city?
Wilmington’s downtown and riverfront districts have already changed dramatically in recent years. Today, hundreds of additional residential units are under construction and startups and other small businesses are popping up along Market Street. But Wilmington’s growth will always be limited if its transportation options are also limited. Delaware can’t afford for that to happen.