Locally King of Prussia might be as well known for its traffic congestion as it is for having the East Coast’s largest shopping mall. In an effort to reduce some of that congestion, the King of Prussia Business Improvement District (KOP-BID) has launched a new website, connectKOP.com.
connectKOP.com is a one-stop shop for information on King of Prussia’s transportation options. The site, KOP-BID hopes, will get drivers out of their cars and onto bikes, public transit and the soon-to-launch employee shuttle.
With 57,000 employees, 10,000 residents and 68,000 daily mall visitors, King of Prussia’s notorious traffic is, to an extent, understandable. Still, it is a critical issue.
“The reason King of Prussia is what it is today is because of the confluence of the highway system… that’s really what formed King of Prussia,” said KOP-BID Executive Director Eric Goldstein.
But, he said, one of the biggest challenges to the region’s future growth is solving its transportation issues.
The goal of connectKOP is to be part of that solution and to show that automobiles are not the only option. Parts of the area are also served by SEPTA bus and regional rail routes, bike trails and the Norristown High Speed Line. Ideally by providing commuters, residents and visitors with relevant information about transportation alternatives, connectKOP will help reduce auto use and congestion.
“There’s only ever one real way to reduce congestion and improve people’s lives, and that is to get vehicles off the roads,” Goldstein said. “Not everybody is going to get out of their car. We know that, but if we can remove a reasonable percentage of people from their cars… it will drastically improve congestion.”
All of this is aimed, ultimately, at ensuring King of Prussia’s economic vitality and growth going forward.
“We really see solving transportation issues as a way to grow jobs in King of Prussia and a way to improve the economy in King of Prussia, so expanding transportation options, we think, will lead to future job growth,” Goldstein said.
Advocating for the Norristown High Speed Line Extension
The website grew out of KOP-BID’s advocacy for the proposed King of Prussia Rail Project, which could extend the current Norristown High Speed Line and bring passengers into the heart of King of Prussia’s business, shopping and visitor attraction districts.
“Initially the website started as an advocacy website,” Goldstein said. “Really what we were going to do was launch a website that was just going to advocate for the Norristown High Speed Line [extension].”
“We, pretty quickly, realized that was [just] one aspect of the total transportation picture in King of Prussia,” he said.
Though connectKOP has evolved into more than just an advocacy site, it will continue to host information about the Norristown High Speed Line extension as that project advances.
At the moment SEPTA is conducting the alternatives analysis, which started in August 2012. That phase is expected to take a total of two years, and it will be followed by a one-year final environmental impact statement, a three-year engineering, design and program management phase and a three to four-year construction phase.
“I really think that will be the biggest game changer for King of Prussia,” Goldstein said. “I think you’ll see a dramatic change in transportation and economic development.”
KOP-BID’s new commuter shuttle service
With the Norristown High Speed Line extension as far as a decade down the road, KOP-BID is taking immediate action to reduce auto reliance through other public transit options. On June 17, the organization will launch theconnector – its own, private shuttle bus service from SEPTA’s Norristown Transportation Center and Wayne Station to the business park.
The 14-passenger shuttles, equipped with free Wi-Fi, bicycle racks and ADA accessibility, will run during morning and evening rush hours. Employees of participating companies will be charged $1-per-ride. All other riders will pay $2-per-ride.
The program is funded, in part, by a $500,000, three-year Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). DVRPC and SEPTA assisted KOP-BID in planning the shuttle service, which will be managed by the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association.
Conveniently, more information on theconnector is available on connectKOP.com.