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May 13, 2019

Citing public response, PATCO scraps 'Night Owl' changes

Several stops in South Jersey would have been cut from the Speedline schedule in the early morning hours under proposal

Public Transportation Patco
PATCO Train Collingswood Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A train pulls away from the Collingswood, N.J., PATCO train station.

Well, that was a quick change of course.

Just a week after PATCO announced plans to dramatically alter its overnight service between South Jersey and Philadelphia, the transit agency announced Monday that it’s scrapping the idea.

The proposed Night Owl Service would have eliminated seven of the 13 stops on the line from service between 1 and 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and 2 and 4:30 a.m. on weekends, and station a police officer onboard each hourly train traveling across the Ben Franklin Bridge.

But outcry from riders and community leaders in municipalities that would have been impacted – namely Collingswood, Westmont (Haddon Township) and Haddonfield – led to a change of heart that had already been delayed a few weeks so PATCO could hear more from interested parties.

And PATCO and the Delaware River Port Authority heard them clearly

The mayors of both Haddon Township and Haddonfield had told PhillyVoice they were urging PATCO to rethink the changes as they would impact their constituents.

“I want to thank the public for their feedback and particularly Mayors Teague, Rochford, and (Collingswood’s Jim) Maley ,” said John T. Hanson, the CEO of DRPA and president of PATCO in a statement released Monday afternoon.

Randall Teague, the mayor of Haddon Township, was pleased by the change of heart.

"That's great news," he told PhillyVoice on Monday. "I commend PATCO for listening to the feedback and responding accordingly."

Neal Rochford, the mayor of neighboring Haddonfield, concurred with that sentiment regarding "community concern" surrounding the new schedule.

"It's still my hope that PATCO will continue to enhance safety and a pleasant riding experience," he said. 

Hanson noted the security concerns said to have inspired the idea in the first place will continue to be investigated.

“PATCO continues to study security concerns during the owl hours,” Hanson said. “And I am creating a special task force led by DRPA Police Captain George Bollendorf to make recommendations about security on the owl service.”

So, scrap those new timetables, PATCO riders. It’ll be the same as it ever was, for now.

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