Media seems like such a natural place to end a Regional Rail line. It’s a sizeable, dense town, after all – the county seat of Delco! And yet…the line goes one stop further to a little station in the middle of nowhere called Elwyn. Elwyn is a weird station.
Now, to my understanding, Elwyn does have specific “inbound” and “outbound” platforms. Trains drop off on the platform to the north, then they travel past the station to lay over and change ends before returning on the platform to the south. Given this information, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to me that the inbound side only has a shelter (technically two, but the other one is just to pay for your parking) and a bench. That’s it! And it wouldn’t be so annoying if it wasn’t for the outbound side…
First off, it’s clear that far more of the outbound platform is covered. Underneath the long awning, the station has a number of newspaper boxes, Key machines, and wastebaskets, but no benches. No, the seating is reserved for one of the strangest waiting areas I’ve ever seen. You have to open a door to get in…and it’s covered on three sides…but the front is exposed to the elements. I have no idea how this design didn’t end up going straight back to the drawing board. There are also heat lamps in here, but they weren’t working when I was here (and they actually would’ve been useful!). But the point is, why is the outbound platform so well-endowed compared to the side where people actually board trains?
Considering Elwyn’s middle-of-nowhere-ness, the amount of parking makes sense: 348 spaces in total, split between two lots (one on Elwyn Road and one on Elwyn Ave, because that’s not confusing at all). It’s just a dollar a day to leave your car here, and it’s free on weekends. I don’t usually trust SEPTA’s claims to not have bike racks at their stations, but in this case, I didn’t see any, so it seems they’re right for once! Also, Elwyn inexplicably has a bus connection: the 117 actually deviates into the station’s drop-off area. On weekdays, buses running north to Granite Run and Penn State actually time relatively well with trains, though not so much on weekends. I wonder how many people actually use that transfer…
Ridership: With 422 boardings per weekday (and, strangely, 481 alightings), Elwyn is the fifth-busiest station on its line. I guess the Media/Elwyn Line does have a lot of tiny stations that are really close together, so I can see how Elwyn would stick out more than those. Also, 422 boardings when the station has 348 parking spaces – it’s pretty clear how most people are getting here!
Pros: I said at the beginning that the station feels like a tacked-on extension from Media, and I still feel that way, but Elwyn does hold its own. There are some sizeable towns beyond Elwyn, so it works well as a park-and-ride for people out there. The station is accessible, with mini-high platforms on both the inbound and outbound sides. It’s nice that on weekdays, the 117 times well enough that it can act as a last-mile shuttle to Penn State, but there’s no information about this on the train schedule.
Cons: Well…more or less everything about the station itself. The outbound side gets far better infrastructure, which doesn’t make any sense (yes, you can wait there and cross over when the train comes, but it still means more time exposed to the elements), and even then, it has that ridiculous shelter with the broken heat lamps. The fact that Elwyn has no bike racks is a huge detriment to commuters (there are some apartment developments down the road in Glen Riddle, for example), especially since that parking lot most certainly fills up fast. Hopefully the extension to Wawa (with its giant parking garage) can get more people to use transit, as well as take pressure off of Elwyn.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Almost nothing. Even if you did want to get to the few suburban businesses on Middletown Road (and honestly, there’s no reason to), the roads around here are treacherous for walking. I actually walked from here to Media at night, which was quite possibly the scariest walk I’ve ever done (and I’ve done a lot of scary walks).
Final Verdict: 5/10
Yeah, man, I’m glad it exists, but it’s not particularly good. Need I remind you that the outbound shelter is just the strangest thing? Also, it’s on the outbound side! Argh! The lot is too small, the lack of bike spaces only burdens the lot further, and there’s a surprisingly good bus connection here that SEPTA doesn’t want to advertise because (I’m sure this is their reasoning) “Regional Rail people don’t take the bus.” So, in short…there’s a lot that can be improved here.
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