What to Know
- PATCO has halted its planned changes to overnight Owl service between South Jersey and Philadelphia.
- The agency cited safety as a big reason for having fewer overnight trains and stops.
- After public outcry and feedback from local mayors, PATCO scrapped its plan.
Attention PATCO riders, your overnight service isn't changing after all.
PATCO has squashed its plan to cut overnight Owl service after outcry over how the service cuts were announced and what the cuts would mean in South Jersey communities.
“I want to thank the public for their feedback and particularly mayors Teague, Rochford, and Maley,” DRPA CEO and PATCO President John T. Hanson said Monday. “PATCO continues to study security concerns during the owl hours and I am creating a special task force led by DRPA Police Captain George Bollendorf to make recommendations about security on the owl service.”
Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley and his colleagues in Haddon Township and Haddonfield had expressed concerns that leaders weren't told of the changes that would leave their towns without overnight service.
"My initial reaction is that it makes no sense, I don't get how it's a safety issue," Maley said after the plan was announced last week.
In the aftermath of the plan rollout, Hanson took responsibility for not alerting local officials of the changes ahead of time.
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On Wednesday, PATCO delayed the changes that would have run trains every 60 minutes instead of every 45 minutes and would have left the Ashland, Haddonfield, Westmont, Collingswood, City Hall, 9/10th & Locust and 12/13th & Locust stations closed in the early morning hours.
PATCO promised to continue to evaluate overnight train safety that initially prompted the changes, the agency said.
Hanson said that a sex assault on an empty train in part prompted the changes. Earlier this year the woman passed out on an otherwise empty PATCO train early in the morning was sexually assaulted. A South Jersey man was charged in that incident.
Hanson also said that overnight ridership is also very low, with only a handful of riders at each station.
“There’s safety in numbers, having more riders together on trains and in stations provides greater security and better police coverage,” DRPA/PATCO Police Chief John L. Stief said last week.
PATCO's current Owl service remains in effect.