I was touring Temple University in 2016, and the guide was telling us about transportation access. “Every Regional Rail line stops at Temple, so it’s really convenient,” he said. And I didn’t know much about SEPTA then, but I did know one thing: not the Cynwyd Line! It ends at Suburban! I would’ve been a pedantic idiot and said that if I had actually known how to pronounce Cynwyd, but (probably for the best) I didn’t. So for the record: Kin-wid. Cool.
Of course, the Cynwyd Line not serving Temple really doesn’t matter when it only runs 21 trains each day, ten inbound and eleven outbound. Those are almost all at rush hour, with one midday round trip and one night round trip. With such limited service, then, Cynwyd Station has no right to be this nice!
The station’s amenities are basic, but…you know, ten inbound trains per day, so it’s not that big of a deal. Montgomery Ave runs over the station, and beneath that overpass is a bench, a wastebasket, some train information, and…oh, a bike rack shaped like a bike! That’s…cute. I mean, you could put in two or three bike racks with the same space, and I saw bikes chained up to a number of other locations here, signifying demand for more racks, but…whatever, it’s cute, it’s cute. Further down, the station has a mini-high platform to make it wheelchair accessible.
Stairs and a ramp lead up to the east, and the same goes for the west. Small lots adorn both sides, adding up to a total of 41 spaces that fill up daily (as expected – they’re free!). A simple level crossing gets you to the other side of the single track, but be warned that if a train is laying over at the station, you’ll get a red hand and a persistent announcement of “WARNING. A TRAIN IS APPROACHING THE CROSSING. PLEASE DO NOT CROSS THE TRACKS.” It gets annoying real fast.
So it’s fairly common knowledge in Philadelphia transit circles that the Cynwyd Line used to cross the Schuylkill River, serving Manayunk and terminating at Ivy Ridge. The line no longer does that, obviously (frankly, the service seemed a bit redundant to the Norristown Line), but it’s been replaced by a fantastic trail that begins at Cynwyd. To go along with that, the station’s house-like building is occupied by the Trail’s End Cafe, an amazingly quaint coffee shop that adds a ton of character to the station. It’s open every day except Mondays.
Ridership: Okay, I’m going to read you a low number of average weekday boardings, and then I’m going to say “But considering that it only gets ten inbound trains per day, it’s not terrible.” Sound good? Okay: 119 average weekday boardings. But considering that it only gets ten inbound trains per day, it’s not terrible!
Pros: That cafe really makes this place shine, especially with all the benches and seats set up outside. The station has other good qualities, too: easy walking access to residential neighborhoods and a great trail; a wheelchair-accessible mini-high platform; and a bit of parking.
Cons: The limited service is the obvious one, but there are problems with the station itself, too. More bike racks would be fantastic, especially given the quiet surrounding streets and a clear demand for places to lock up. Also, why is the parking free? It’s kind of a slap in the face to (for example) low-income people from Coatesville who have to pay for parking at Thorndale, even if it is just a dollar a day, when wealthy residents of Lower Merion Township can just drive to Cynwyd and park for nothing.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Cynwyd Station is actually closer to Hymie’s and surrounding restaurants than Merion, so I get another opportunity to rep for a great Jewish deli! There’s a little downtown around the station too, but aside from a BMW dealership (literally the first thing you see when you leave the station) and an expensive-looking Italian restaurant, it hasn’t got much.
Final Verdict: 7/10
Okay, I’ll be honest, the station itself is pretty darn good. I’m not going to remove points for providing free parking, although the bike rack issue is a bigger problem. The only thing really holding Cynwyd back is its limited service, and the area may not generate the ridership needed for more, if it even wants it to begin with.
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