This morning, I'm waiting at the I78/412 Park & Ride for Jim and Ed to arrive on the early train to Philly.
As I step off the platform & into the coach, I see my friends are already at a table seat, coffee & Danish on deck, hammering away on their laptops. I stop at the cafe counter to grab a muffin and cup o' Joe, then join them. As I settle in, I realize I forgot to charge my my laptop, so I plug in to the outlet at the window as we slip through Hellertown.
After a quick stop near Water Street to pick up a few more people, (two with bikes that'll go into the on-board racks ) we pick up a little speed as we cross Saucon creeek and bend to the right past the Meadows toward Center Valley.
Early morning joggers & bikers wave to the still new-looking train as we zip by at close to 75 mph. Some of them are headed for DeSales University; the trail now extends to the edge of Q-town, At the DeSales stop we all nod to another daily rider getting off; he's a professor who lives in Bethlehem. The two students with bikes get off here too - great way to get around campus.
We've barely stopped moving and we're on our way toward Quakertown at about 80 mph. Route 309 runs alongside here and there, and we leave car after car in our wake stuck for traffic & stoplights. Q-town actaully has two stops,one along California Rd. and the other in town at the old station. Dozens of prople get on & off here, and at the Perkasie & Souderton/Telford stops as well.
We all headed for SEPTA at Lansdale and Market East station in center-city Philly. Except for Ed; he got a from the office and has to go to Virginia. He take AmTrak from 30th St. to D.C., then take the Metro over to Alexandria.
Jim's wife and son had joined him for the first leg of their trip from Allentown to NYC and beyond. Trains originate in both Allentown & Easton,then converge in Bethlehem for the Philly service.
The Easton section actually heads back, stops again in Easton, (good to know when you oversleep) and then on to Pillipsburg, Bloomsbury, High Bridge and Newark, with stops all along the way. At Newark, Annette will take AmTrak's Acela to her seminar up in Providence, R.I.; at 150 mph she'll be there in no time. Very satisfiying to go that fast legally, and doesn't seem like it from inside.
Jim's son Nick is laying over awhile in Newark for an interview. He'll head back to the platform afterward & go on to Penn Station in Manhattan; and yes, it's always that packed there! After a full day in the Big Apple, he meets mom back in Newark.
They head home aboard the bi-level cars that'll be used all the way back to the L.V. One of them is full of "foodies" on their way to Easton. Some are looking forward to Tony Bordain's newest show at the State Theatre, while others are staying for the Garlic Festival, in full swing this weekend.
On the way home from Philly we pick up an extra section at Lansdale; there's a big Phantoms game in Allenton tonight & the trains takes you right downtown, so why drive?
Back at the Park&Ride, I say goodbye to Jim (Ed had to stay in Alexandria) and a bunch of us hop onto LANTA for the last leg of our ride home. The bus drops me off in West Bethlehem; the others continue on to downtown, the Westgate area, and LVIA. We really don't miss that second car, or the payments.
During Musikfest, drivers using I-78 can park at the huge Park & Ride lot for just afew bucks a day. The railroad even offers free shuttles to the festival in some of those restored old "Budd" cars the used to be made down the road in Red Lion, Pa.
Jim and his family meet up as the train from NYC arrives and they all head for dinner out at an eatery in the new Waterfront in Allentown, since the train stops right there & that's where they parked this morning. The train just in from Easton will be heading back with more garlic lovers from Philly.
At days end, the trains "tie up" overnight in Easton and Allentown to get serviced and cleaned and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Pretty slick operation; glad we finally brought it back.