Consider this my SEPTA service change guide. Literally the only non-seasonal change they seem to be making is the elimination of the 205, and the rerouting of the 204 and 206 to compensate. Thus, I figured why not ride the very last trip on this completely insignificant Regional Rail suburban feeder and review it?
I made sure to get an early 124 that would give me plenty of time in Chesterbrook, since I don’t trust the 124 not to be late. True to form, we arrived at Chesterbrook about 20 minutes behind schedule, giving me half an hour to find the stop. One problem, though: there were no stops that said “205” on them. Either SEPTA took down the 205 signs in advance, or they never had them up to begin with. I wouldn’t put the latter past them…
Eventually I gave up my search and just walked over to the little 30-foot bus, which was laying over in an office park. “Where do you board?” I asked through the open window. She told me to wait at the bus shelter that said “124” on it. I walked over there, and about ten minutes later, the bus pulled out of its hidey-hole (one minute early) to begin the last-ever 205 trip. There was one other rider on board, surprisingly!
We began by looping around the Chesterbrook Corporate Center on its office park roads, picking up no one else. Making our way to Duportail Road, we ended up in the woods, passing only an ominous “Authorized Vehicles Only” driveway. After the intersection with Swedesford Road, our street turned into…a highway on-ramp. Okay, did not realize the 205 had an express section.
We had a nice nonstop portion along Route 202, going by woods and highway walls with trees painted on them. Once we took the exit (marked simply “Exit”), we were back in office park land, going down Swedesford Road past streets with really fancily-foliaged medians. Turning onto Chesterfield Parkway, we ran through a series of office parks that included picnic tables next to parking lots (ho hum) and a beach volleyball court (ooh!). Someone else got on along here, which was exciting.
Crossing Swedesford Road for the last time, our street became Cedar Hollow Road, which went over Route 202 and across the Chester Valley Trail. There was even a residential neighborhood that we went by! We turned onto Industrial Boulevard next, which pulled a 180-degree turn around this bizarre incomplete rotary next to some office parks before climbing up into the woods. Our little bus was really struggling to get up the hill!
We broke out into the Paoli Medical Plaza, where the guy who boarded in Chesterbrook left the bus – that’s a trip he won’t be able to make again after today. The road curved around to an intersection with Lancaster Ave, onto which we turned. We went underneath the Main Line tracks, then there was some retail development that I guess was downtown Paoli. “Paoli Village Shoppes” – give me a break. And then the SEPTA station popped up out of nowhere, and into it we went. I was the last person ever to step off a 205!
Route: 205 (Chesterbrook to Paoli Station)
Ridership: 40 whole riders a day? Averaging out to two people per trip? How could they posssssibly justify getting rid of thissssss?
Pros: The route pretty nicely aligns with Paoli/Thorndale Line trains, and I gotta say, it was impressive that we left Chesterbrook a minute early and arrived at Paoli a minute early. Essentially right on schedule!
Cons: Who would want to use this to commute to Chesterbrook when in order to get there, you have to take this crazy roundabout trip? The 124 is a mess, but getting off at Gulph Mills and taking the Norristown High Speed Line in eases the pain quite a lot! And 40 riders a day, I mean, come on…
Nearby and Noteworthy: You like office parks? The 205 gives you office parks. You like beach volleyball? The 205 gives you beach volleyball.
Final Verdict: 2/10
Yeah, I mean, rerouting the 204 and 206 to cover up for the 205’s loss makes a lot of sense to me. I fully support the elimination of this route. I just hope that guy who went from Chesterbrook to Paoli Medical Plaza can find another way there, though…
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