SO JUST WHAT IS SMART/LV ANYWAY ? Smart/lv, an acronym for “Suburban – Metro Area Rail Transit/Lehigh Valley”, is a serious proposal to reinstate Inter-City Passenger Rail service between the Lehigh Valley and the markets of both New York City and Philadelphia. SMART will do this by re-opening the Bethlehem Branch to Philly via Lansdale & SEPTA, and utilize the “Lehigh Line” (Norfolk Southern) to NJ Transit at High Bridge & on to Newark and NYC.
While our main ridership will be people geting to and from work opportunities in the Philly and New York/New Jersey markets, including multiple connections to AmTrak high-speed trains, we will also provide a long-overdue way to get large numbers of people to the Lehigh Valley for all we have to offer, in an efficient, comfortable and cost-effective manner.
The line to Philly will also include the already-started rail trail as far as Coopersburg, and hopefully to Quakertown as well, making this one of the few truly MULTI-MODAL systems in the nation. On-board amenities include cafe/bistro service, comfortable seating including table seats, all with Wi-Fi & power outlets, and full-size ADA restrooms. Coaches will be both single and bilevel, depending on capacity needs, and likely be 100% American-made DMU’s,(Diesel MultipleUnits) very efficient, fast, and the safest in the world. These are made by US Railcar Co., of Columbus, Ohio, and are currently the only ones in the world approved by the FRA(Federal Railroad Administration) for use along with active freight traffic as in our case, right out othe box, with no waivers of the operating rules.US%20Railcar%20Brochure-Nov10
HOW WILL TRAIN SERVICE WORK ?
Trains to both Philly and New York will originate in the Lehigh Valley in Easton and Allentown, and converge in Bethlehem, where the line from Philly ends. This so riders don’t have to drive to Bethlehem to catch the train, no matter which way they’re headed. If you’re headed for Philly from Allentown, you’ll just stay on board when you arrive in Bethlehem, where the train from Easton meets the Allentown train, and Easton’s riders join them on their way to Philly. The Easton section then heads back with the east-bound bunch from Allentown to Easton to pick up riders headed for Jersey & New York, continuing on to P-burg, Bloomsbury, and High Bridge on the way to Newark, where AmTrak’s trains on the N.E. corridor stop. In that respect, Eastonians get a double shot at going east; you can leave early & grab some breakfast or get some extra Z’s by catching the later east-bound section. From Newark, you can access AmTrak’s nation-wide network of trains, including the 150mph Acela.
Back on the train that just left Bethlehem, we stop at the big I-78/rte412 Park & Ride for more people bound for Philly. Most get side-tracked to the cafe counter to grab some breakfast on their way to the table-seats where they chatter away on their laptops and phones, thanks to on-board Wi-Fi. At 80 mph, we get to SEPTA at Lansdale in no time & their lines can take us to all five terminals at Philly International, Center-city, and 30th Street Station, where we can also pick up AmTrak to Washington, D.C.,or west-ward to Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, or Chicago and beyond.
On the liesure/pleasure side of travel needs, the options available to us are almost too numerous to mention, but here are few. Most people in the Lehigh Valley are unaware that if we need to fly out of Philly International for example, we needn’t drive there & pay for long-term parking while we’re away. Even now, we can get on SEPTA at Lansdale, park there for all of a dollar a day, and they run directly to all five terminals. But more importantly, once SMART trains are running, our own LVIA can draw on the extensive Philly market and bring them here more directly & conveniently. LVIA can certainly use the revenue from them, as well as from the NJ/NYC area.
We have so much to offer here in the Valley. From the new Phantoms Arena, Allentown’ new Waterfront, and all the many festivals in Easton and Bethlehem, great hotels & restaurants, Dorney Park, world-class Wineries and all the history we have, people with have more incentive to come here by train & stay for the weekend or longer as opposed to just driving here, staying for a few hours or a day at best, and turn around & go back home.
We and the outside world are missing out on an awful lot not having the option of Inter-City Rail, but what will cost us?
Around 12 cents a day, but more on that in the very near future…..