Getting from New Jersey to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis might not be as cumbersome as officials had warned.
Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen said several new plans will be announced Wednesday, all of them easing the warnings made a month ago that a main option to get to the pope's public events on Sept. 26 and 27 would be walking several miles from New Jersey's suburbs.
Details were scheduled to be released at a 1 p.m. news conference in Camden. Officials in Philadelphia have also been saying that getting into and around the city for the pope's three public events won't be as challenging as once thought.
Keashen said plenty of seats appear to be available on the PATCO commuter trains that run from southern New Jersey to Philadelphia. He said tickets will be available at the stations during that weekend. The Delaware River Port Authority, which operates the train line, had previously said that customers who do not have passes would have to get special tickets in advance. The trains are still scheduled to stop only at the stations with major park-and-ride lots.
Keashen also said that 8,500 private cars will be allowed into Camden and can park in lots right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. The waterfront parking lots had been reserved for more than 1,000 charter buses, but organizers of the World Meeting of Families have found space for the buses in Philadelphia instead. People who want to park in Camden will need to buy placards in advance; those will cost about $44 per day; no overnight parking will be allowed. The placards are available online.
Drivers who don't live or work in the city or have passes are to be turned away at the borders. Keashen said nearby communities should be ready for possible traffic gridlock caused by turning vehicles away.
Once people get to Camden, they can cross into Philadelphia on a ferry that can fit 500 people each hour, on trains or on foot on the Ben Franklin Bridge, which is to be closed to cars and trucks. No shuttle services across the bridge are scheduled.