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PATCO is stopping overnight Owl Service to half of its stations in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
The agency is citing safety as a big reason for having fewer overnight trains and stops.
Sorry night owls.
Citing safety as a top priority, PATCO is stopping overnight train service to half of its stations in Philadelphia and South Jersey and running trains less often.
Owl Service speed line trains will now run every 60 minutes instead of every 45 minutes from midnight to 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. on weekends, PATCO and its parent company, the Delaware River Port Authority, announced Monday.
Besides fewer trains transporting people between Philadelphia and South Jersey, the agency will now be serving less than half of its 13 stations. From 1 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. on weekends, the Ashland, Haddonfield, Westmont, Collingswood, City Hall, 9/10th & Locust and 12/13th & Locust stations will be closed, PATCO said. The 9/10th & Locust Station in Center City Philadelphia will continue to be closed at midnight per the existing schedule.
The agency says there will be an increased presence of police officers at the six stations (Lindenwold, Woodcrest, Ferry, Broadway, 8th & Market and 15/16th & Locust Stations) that will remain open and on the overnight trains.
“Safety and security are a top priority at PATCO,” agency general manager John D. Rink said. “The Owl Service adjustments increase and maintain a safe and comfortable travel experience for our owl riders.”
DRPA CEO and PATCO president John Hanson said that a sex assault on an empty train in part prompted the changes. Earlier this year a 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 said that ridership is also very low, only a handful of riders at each station, during overnight hours.
“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. “We evaluated ways to increase our police presence throughout the system during the owl hours. These service modifications allow us to do just that.”
Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley expressed concern that local mayors weren't told of the changes that 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.
Hanson took responsibility for not alerting local officials of the changes ahead of time.
The overnight service changes were set to begin at midnight Monday, but would be delayed Hanson told NBC10. Regular service will resume at 4:30 a.m. from 15th/16th & Locust and Lindenwold each weekday morning with regular service from Lindenwold starting at 5 a.m. on weekends, PATCO said.
PATCO suggested visiting its website for schedule changes, including new Saturday departures to work with New Jersey Transit River Line service at the Broadway Station in Camden.