Uncertain outlook for increased SEPTA service in Wilmington

SEPTA Regional Rail (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

SEPTA Regional Rail (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

An online petition urging SEPTA and DelDOT to add more frequent train service to Wilmington is gaining steam.

After being frustrated with long waits and infrequent train stops on SEPTA lines in Wilmington, David Curtis took action. He launched a petition at Change.org to expand the number of times trains stop in Wilmington and to extend the hours of service. So far, the petition has gathered nearly 950 signatures.

“Improving SEPTA access will be a shot in the arm for Delaware’s largest city,” Curtis said in his online pitch to get more signatures for the petition. “Increasing frequencies make it more appealing to commute by rail.”

One of the petition’s targets is Delaware Transit Corporation CEO John Sisson. He said, “Past ridership projections have not justified the additional expense of providing these trains.”

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Every weekday, 11 trains from Philadelphia to Delaware stop in Marcus Hook instead of continuing to Wilmington. Sisson said it would cost about $3.3 million to extend those trains to Wilmington. Adding hourly trains at Wilmington between 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. would require an additional five trains. Sisson said it would cost $300,000 a year per train. 

Sisson didn’t slam the door closed on the petition’s aims. “We continually evaluate all our services for improvements and as part of the FY16 budget process DTC [will evaluate] the possibility of adding additional rail service to Delaware.”

He said that evaluation could result in more weekday trains between Wilmington and Newark, or additional weekend service.

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