The PATCO Speedline (also known colloquially as the PATCO High Speed Line, Lindenwold High Speed Line, or simply PATCO) is a rapid transit system operated by the Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden County, New Jersey. The Speedline runs underground in Philadelphia, crosses the Delaware River on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, runs underground in Camden, then runs above ground in New Jersey until the east end of the line. The Port Authority Transit Corporation and the Speedline are owned and operated by the Delaware River Port Authority. The line transports over 38,000 people daily. In 2012, ridership reached a ten-year high, with the system having carried 10,612,897 passengers, but dipped to 10,007,256 in 2014.
Speedline operation began on February 15, 1969, with the first trip from Lindenwold, New Jersey, to Center City, Philadelphia. The Speedline operates 24 hours a day, one of only six U.S. rapid transit systems to do so (the others being the New York City Subway, Staten Island Railway, PATH, the Red and Blue Lines of the Chicago "L" and the Green Line of the Minnesota METRO Transit).
- 1 Philadelphia to Camden
- 2 Extension to Lindenwold
- 3 Expansion proposals
- 4 Trains and cars
- 5 Fare collection
- 6 Connections to other transit systems
- 7 Station list
- 8 See also
Philadelphia to Camden
The modern-day PATCO Speedline follows the route of several historical mainline railroad lines, some dating back to the 19th century. These railroads all terminated in Camden, where passengers could catch ferries across the Delaware River to Philadelphia. Early in the 20th century, the idea of a fixed Delaware River crossing connecting Camden and Philadelphia gained traction, and in 1919, the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey formed the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission to build a bridge between the two cities. The Delaware River Bridge (now Ben Franklin Bridge) was designed to accommodate rail as well as road traffic; when it opened on July 1, 1926, it had two outboard structures beside the main roadway for rail and space for two streetcar tracks (never installed) on the main road deck. Construction of the rail line did not actually begin until 1932, and the Bridge Line opened on June 7, 1936. Relatively short, it only had four stations: 8th Street and Franklin Square in Philadelphia (the latter currently closed) and City Hall and Broadway in Camden (connecting to the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines at Broadway).
In Philadelphia, the line used a tunnel built in 1931 to serve both Ben Franklin Bridge trains and a Broad Street Subway spur designed to serve 8th and Market and the southern part of the city center via Locust Street. The tunnel, which replaced an earlier proposal for a downtown subway loop, extended under 8th to Locust, then under Locust to 16th, but as tracks were not laid beyond 8th and Market, the first Bridge Line trains did not run beyond 8th Street into the Locust Street Subway until February 10, 1952. This section is owned by the City of Philadelphia and leased by PATCO.
Extension to Lindenwold
As soon as the Bridge Line entered service, the unserved neighboring communities in Southern New Jersey began requesting for extensions to the line so that those communities would also be served. To facilitate their construction, the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania expanded the powers of the Delaware River Joint Commission, which owned the Ben Franklin Bridge and the New Jersey portion of the Bridge Line, rechristening it as the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) in 1951. The agency commissioned Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hall and MacDonald (now Parsons Brinckerhoff) to study possible rapid transit services for South Jersey; Parsons, Brinckerhoff's final report recommended building a new tunnel under the Delaware and three lines in New Jersey. Route A would run to Moorestown, Route B to Kirkwood (now Lindenwold), and Route C to Woodbury Heights. A later study by Louis T. Klauder & Associates recommended using the Bridge Line instead to reach Philadelphia and suggested building Route B first, as it had the highest potential ridership.
The last Broad-Ridge Spur trains ran through the subway on August 23, 1968, when work began to convert the Locust Street and Camden subways for use by the new PATCO Speedline, which would use the Bridge Line subway to enter Philadelphia. DRPA service ended on December 29, 1968 for final conversion of the line. PATCO service from Lindenwold station to Camden along former Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines trackage began on January 4, 1969; full service into downtown Philadelphia over the bridge began on February 15, 1969. An infill park-and-ride station, Woodcrest, was added in 1980
In 2005, PATCO officials began planning a new route in the corridor of the originally proposed Route C that would serve Gloucester County and end in Glassboro on the grounds of Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State College). On May 12, 2009, Jon Corzine, the Governor of New Jersey, formally endorsed a diesel light rail along an existing Conrail right-of-way, which was selected because of its lower capital cost and operating cost. The proposed Glassboro–Camden Line would require riders to transfer to the Speedline at the Walter Rand Transportation Center for trips to Philadelphia. The PATCO study also recommended a multimodal, regional initiative to introduce a Camden-Philadelphia BRT, a bus rapid transit system along Routes 42 and 55, as well as upgrading New Jersey Transit's Atlantic City Line to improve its usability.
In 2009, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA, parent agency of PATCO) announced that it was commissioning a design plan for renovating, modernizing and reopening the Franklin Square station. As of December 2016:
Trains and cars
Original PATCO car in 1969.
PATCO originally operated 121 67-foot (20.42 m) cars which were acquired in two separate orders, labeled PATCO I and PATCO II. The original PATCO I cars were designed and manufactured by Budd of Philadelphia in 1968. Cars numbered 101-125 were single units, and cars numbered 201-250 were in permanently coupled married pairs. The PATCO II cars were delivered in 1980 (in parallel with the opening of the Woodcrest Park and ride facility) and consisted of married pairs numbered 251-296. The PATCO II cars were manufactured by Vickers Canada under a license from Budd, but are nearly indistinguishable from the PATCO I's, the only differences being that the PATCO II cars had a fixed partition behind the operator's booth and lack a stainless steel shroud below the door line to ease access to traction components.
The single units differed from the married pairs by having an extra single leaf door located behind each operators booth. This was installed before the fare collection system was finalized and there was a possibility of operators collecting fares on board during the late night hours.
The PATCO I cars were originally fitted with WABCO Model N-2 MU couplers. Because of reliability issues these were replaced by Tomlinson type couplers manufactured by Ohio Brass Company. The original electrical system in the PATCO I cars was found to have certain reliability issues and was completely rebuilt after the PATCO II cars arrived to the PATCO II standard.
As built, the PATCO cars used camshaft resistance type motor controllers common to DC powered rapid transit vehicles up through the 1980s. The unique whine of the motors and gear assemblies can lead many to mistake the cars for using thyristor drive or even a variable-frequency drive, but this is not the case. Bogies are of the Budd designed Pioneer III variety and while lightweight, provide for a very bouncy ride. The married pair cars shared a single motor control unit and automatic operation box. Many PATCO Car design features also appeared in the M1/M3 class of MU railcars for the Long Island Rail Road which provides for a similar riding experience.
PATCO was one of the first transit systems to incorporate automatic train operation for regular service. The PATCO ATO is an analogue system that makes use of pulse code cab signaling supplied by Union Switch and Signal. The cab signals supply one of five different speeds (20 mph or 32 km/h, 30 mph or 48 km/h, 40 mph or 64 km/h, 65 mph or 105 km/h and 0 mph or 0 km/h) and the on-board ATO gear will supply maximum acceleration or maximum braking force to reach that target speed. The frequent use of such high acceleration and deceleration rates makes for a quick ride, yet one that can occasionally be perilous for non-seated passengers. Automatic station stops are handled by track mounted transponders and can be overridden by the operator for non-stopping trains.
The system suffers from problems handling slippery track conditions and human operators are required to take control in any sort of precipitation. Because of the ATO limitations, drivers must make one trip per day under manual operation to stay in practice and are not penalized for running their trains manually at any time of their choosing. In practice, most operators prefer automatic operation as not only is it less effort, but it also tends to result in faster trips.
The system was designed for one person train operation by exclusively utilizing island platforms and right-handed operation with operators sitting on the left side of the vehicle where they can open their window and monitor the boarding process. Where trains have to use the "wrong" side, mirrors are provided to give the operator a proper view. Prior to the rebuild, the operator was not isolated from the passenger cabin, instead being surrounded by a low partition. Operators wishing privacy could pull a curtain closed during operation, but were still on call to answer inquiries from passengers and when the booth was not in use, a lockable cover slid over the console controls. As of 2018 all of the legacy vehicles have been rebuilt with modern controls and full width cabs. The Operators are still responsible, opening and closing the doors, sounding the horn, starting the train from station stops and full manual operation of the train (when necessary). The rebuild also replaced the manual announcements with automated announcements.
Trains operate at a maximum of 65 mph (105 km/h) on the surface portion of the system and 40 mph (64 km/h) in the subway portion and over the bridge. Trains used to have a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h) on the surface portion, but this caused excessive wear on the traction motors and was cut back to 65 mph (105 km/h) in the 1970s.
PATCO runs the majority of its trains in 2-, 4- or 6-car configurations. Before the Alstom rebuild, single-unit trains were occasionally seen late at night, while 3- or 5-car trains were encountered only when not enough cars are available to meet the load line. All stations are capable of handling 7- or 8-car trains, but these lengths have never been run except for brief testing and for the annual holiday "Santa Train" special for children. In an effort to contain costs, PATCO actively manages its consist length as opposed to running trains in fixed sets. Train length is matched to the demand level for that particular time of day. In peak periods trains are 6 cars long, on "shoulder" periods they are 4 cars long, off peak they are 2 cars long, and overnight sometimes single units were run alone (this is no longer possible as the single units have since been converted into 2-car married pairs as part of the Alstom rebuild). Due to recent capital improvements, weekend and mid-day headways have grown, prompting PATCO to run 4-car trains all day, albeit less frequently than the 2-car trains.
Original 1968 PATCO car interior.
PATCO maintained the same the interior styling in its vehicles from their introduction in 1969 through the end of the rebuilding process in 2018 with the 1980 PATCO II cars being treated to the exact same 1969 look. The color combination was a base of cream with a avocado green fill. The rebuild replaced this with a grey and white interior with brighter fluorescent lighting. Seating is a 2+2 arrangement, with half of the seats in each car facing the direction of travel, and half facing the opposite direction. Seats originally ran the full length of the car, with the front seats next to the operator's booth having the benefit of a large picture window. However, the newly refurbished cars now have a full-width operator's cabs, resulting in the loss of four passenger seats, in addition to a number of folding longitudinal seats for ADA compliance.
Each PATCO car has a pair of doors on each side with a foyer area inside the doors for standing passengers. There are also hand-holds on all seat backs for standing passengers the entire length of the aisles. Car end-doors are unlocked, but inter-car movement is discouraged because of the extreme motions between cars. Interior cabs are halved to free up the space for passengers, however both cabs at the front and rear of any train are left in their full width configuration.
PATCO announced plans for the complete refurbishment of the entire fleet with work expected to begin in 2009. The contract for rebuilding the rolling stock was awarded to Alstom, at a cost of $194.2 million, beating Bombardier's bid by $35 million, though Bombardier claimed the contract was incorrectly awarded. PATCO began to ship the railcars with their trucks removed and replaced with highway tires for the road trip to the Alstom facility in Hornell, New York, in March 2011.
The refurbishment consisted of a completely new interior with more modern colors, wheelchair access and more reliable HVAC systems. The rollsigns were replaced with digital displays, and the cars received automated announcements. These changes reduced seating by eight seats, from 160 to 152. The refurbishment also saw the replacement of the propulsion and automatic train operation systems, which used technology last updated in the early 1980s; the camshaft resistance type motor controller was replaced by a new solid state unit using IGBTs and the relay based ATO unit was replaced by a computerized system. The General Electric DC motors, Pioneer III trucks and gearboxes were not replaced, but rebuilt by Alstom as well. Also, Alstom purchased many extra GE 1255 A2 motors from retired Metro-North Railroad M-1A's from a scrap dealer in Ohio, and rebuilt them to provide PATCO with extra DC motors for future replacement if needed, or required.
The first rebuilt cars were redelivered to PATCO's Lindenwold, New Jersey Shops on November 12, 2013, and were tested accordingly before going into service. Rebuilt cars are being renumbered into the 1000 series instead of their former numbers. The formerly single unit cars were converted into married-pair type cars instead of their former singles status, with the former single-leaf door behind the train operators position removed and sealed-off. The rebuilding is expected to extend the lives of these cars by 20 years, similar to the rebuilds received by many of the New York City Subway's cars from R26's thru the R46's. On May 28, 2015, after over a year and a half of exhaustive testing, and after a brief ceremony, along with a public unveiling for the rebuilt cars was held at the Woodcrest Station for all interested parties, passengers or persons alike, the first four (4) of the rebuilt cars (1095-6 & 1101-2, formerly or ex-295-6 and ex-101 and 102 the former single units respectively) were finally placed back into service, as Alstom has worked to iron-out most of the teething bugs and problems with the communications, automatic train control, propulsion, braking systems, and other bugs out of the sixteen redelivered cars during their 500 hours of extensive mandatory acceptance testing period, which these cars passed on December 16, 2014. The recorded announcements on the refurbished cars are provided by Bernie Wagenblast.
The interior of a rebuilt PATCO car.
In rebuilding these cars, PATCO and Alstom had struggled to incorporate new computer technology into the operational systems of these 46-year-old train cars, causing computer interface problems between PATCO's old 1969 DC technology, and Alstom's new 2014 AC technologies. Alstom will now proceed with the rebuilding of the remaining fleet of cars at a production and delivery rate of 4 to 6 cars per month until all cars have gone through this overhaul and rebuilding process.
The final run of the non-refurbished "legacy" trains took place on June 10, 2018, with a contest held for a rider to sit in the front row seat for the last time, something that is no longer possible with the refurbished trains. As of March 24, 2018, 90 cars have been overhauled and accepted into service.
As built, one of the six possible routes were displayed on a fluorescent lit piece of glass in the car. The text for the six routes were cut through a dark tinted piece of glass, the light behind the correct one identifying the train route. There were also rolling signs on the car ends and sides displaying this same route. The routes were as follows, with the current three service designations in bold:
|Local routes||Express routes|
|Lindenwold Local||Lindenwold Express|
|Philadelphia Local||Philadelphia Express|
|Ferry Avenue Local|
An additional sign (Special) was displayed when the train was not accepting passengers. The only currently operating express service is westbound from Lindenwold towards Philadelphia, which operates six times daily between 7:30 am – 8:45 am, skipping only Haddonfield, Westmont, and Collingswood stations. (Unfortunately signage inside the cars indicates that express trains stop at Haddonfield.) There is currently no eastbound express service, and all eastbound trains terminate at Lindenwold, as opposed to terminating early at Ferry Avenue or Woodcrest.
The newly rehabilitated cars had all of their existing front and side signage removed and replaced with Luminator amber colored LED electronic signs.
PATCO trains are governed by a Pulse code cab signaling system which transmits signal codes to the trains via the running rails. Wayside signals are located only at interlockingsand consist of two lamps on a single signal head, one lunar white, the other red. There are three typical signal indications, Red for "Stop", Lunar for "proceed under cab signals on main route" and flashing lunar for "proceed under cab signals on diverging route". Historically a Green signal was provided to indicate a clear track to the next interlocking (absolute block), but these were eliminated as reverse direction cab signaling was installed. A yellow signal also existed east of 8th and Market to indicate a route lined for the SEPTA Broad Ridge Spur, but this was removed along with the connection in the late 1990s.
There are 5 cab signals, each corresponding to a speed. The cab signals are displayed to the operator via a series of 5 lamps above the speedometer, red for Stop, yellow/red for 20 mph, yellow for 30 mph, yellow/green for 40 mph and green for 65 mph. These lamps correspond to the same cab signals in use by various northeastern railroads. Even when the Automatic Train Operation System is not in use, the cab signal speed control function is still enabled and if an operator goes above the permitted speed, the power is cut and the brakes are applied until the speed is back within the limit.
The entire PATCO system is run from Center Tower, centrally located above a substation near the Broadway station in Camden, NJ. Center Tower is staffed by two operators at peak periods and a single operator otherwise. Wayside signals are marked with their corresponding lever in the old US&S fashion with R signals indicating a "right" lever motion and L signals indicating "left". Signals and switches are numbered in ascending order from west to east with 15th/16th Locust using levers 1-4 and Lindenwold using levers 73-76. The interlocking at Woodcrest, which was added in 1980, uses levers 87-98.
The following fixed signs are also present on PATCO:
- H - Sound Horn
- T - Trigger Sign - Station stop outer transponder, trains not stopping must cancel automatic stop.
- AB - Approach block, trains operating without cab signals prepare to stop.
- Speed X mph - Speed limit sign in tunnel section for sharp curves.
- Clear # - Train of # car lengths has cleared sharp curve.
In case of a cab signal failure or the need to disregard them, the cab signal may be cut out by the operator with permission from Center Tower.
All PATCO trains are electrically powered. Power comes from a top contact covered third rail at 750 V DC. There are two feeds from the commercial power grid, one located in Philadelphia from PECO Energy for the old Bridge Line tunnel segments and the other in New Jersey from PSE&G for the new mainline segments. In New Jersey power is distributed via wayside AC transmission lines in the 26.4 kV range and a series of 7 substations, located approximately every 2 miles (3.2 km), transform and rectify the current to the 750 V DC used in the third rail.
From its beginning in 1969, PATCO used a magnetic ticket as the sole means of collecting fares. The plastic tickets may still be bought for single rides through vending machines in the stations. These machines once required coins, so bill changers were placed in stations. Each vending machine was capable of selling two types of tickets, which the rider chose by pushing a button after inserting the correct fare. Several machines were needed in each station, since different types of one-way and two-way tickets needed to be sold. After the ticket was purchased, it was inserted through a turnstile gate. To exit the station, it was inserted again, and if it had rides remaining, returned to the rider. A ticket with no rides was re-encoded by the system and returned to use in the vending machine. Tickets could also be purchased in ten-trip passes, but these were obtained through mail or in an office.
At its inception, this system was state-of-the-art, but became more problematic as the years went on. Tickets were vulnerable to damage from magnetic sources such as cell phones and PDAs that did not exist when the system was put in place, and the equipment to read and code the farecards began to suffer from extreme reliability problems as well as replacement part availability.
Main article: Freedom Card
In July 2006, PATCO announced that it would start the transition from a magnetic ticket fare system to an electronic smart card system. Magnetic tickets are still sold, for the occasional riders, however they are now in a paper form. The new computer vending machines allow more advanced purchasing options for Freedom Cards (the term used for the smart cards). Payment can now be in the form of coins, bills, credit cards, or debit cards; however, credit and debit cards can only be used to load fare onto a Freedom Card or purchase a new card. PATCO has a system that allows balances to be reloaded on the Internet.
Each fare machine in the unpaid areas (i.e. outside the gates) performs all transactions (except for SEPTA transfers in PA stations, as the transfers are only sold on the unpaid side of NJ stations). Also, to augment the call-for-aid phones, there are now exit fare machines located inside of the fare gates, so that if a rider has purchased the wrong fare, they may pay the remaining fare to exit.
The system has been in use by the general public at all PATCO stations since its launch in 2007.
The system was put into effect in an attempt to gain ridership, which had fallen sharply since its peak in 1990. The system was designed, built and integrated by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.
Because of the system's flexibility, it could eventually be used on the SEPTA and RiverLine rail networks, allowing an integration of the systems.
Because the smart cards store value (instead of "rides") and the paper tickets expire after three days, it is no longer possible to hoard "rides" in advance of a fare increase. Also, the combination of the contactless card payment and the new swinging fare gates have decreased turnstile throughput, resulting in long exit queues after a train discharges a load of passengers at a station.
In September 2011 PATCO started Phase One of a pilot program for a new form of open payment called PATCO Wave And Pay Anywhere. Phase One allowed for a PATCO-branded prepaid Visa card. The card was also put in by CUBIC Transportation Systems. It required a $6.00 balance to travel on PATCO. The card works the same as the Freedom Card except it could be used at any location that accepts Visa.
In April 2012, Phase Two of this open payment system was initiated. This phase allowed for station gates and parking terminals to accept other forms of contactless paymentsystems in use by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. In addition to credit cards with the technology built in, the system also accepted Near field communication virtual wallet payment methods such as Google Wallet. This pilot program ended in October 2012. Processing costs were deemed too high to continue the program, which was otherwise considered successful by PATCO management.
Connections to other transit systems
Map of the PATCO Speedline system
New Jersey Transit connections
New Jersey Transit buses connect to most PATCO stations in New Jersey. The New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line also stops at Lindenwold Station, and the River Line connects at Broadway Station (Walter Rand Transportation Center).
The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Market–Frankford Lineconnects to PATCO at the 8th & Market Station, which is two blocks away from SEPTA's Jefferson Station, where all but one of SEPTA's regional trains stop.
SEPTA's Broad Street Line connects to PATCO at the Walnut–Locust station via a short underground walkway to PATCO's 12th-13th & Locust, and 15-16th & Locust stations. The Broad-Ridge Spur connects to PATCO at the 8th & Market Station via a pedestrian walkway.
Formerly, a special "SEPTA Transfer" ticket could be purchased from the unpaid side of any New Jersey station. These tickets were sold for $3.50 ($1.75 per ride, a savings compared to a single $2.25 cash fare or a token for $2.00) and dispensed two paper receipts, one good for a ride within one hour of the time of purchase and another good for a ride within 24 hours of the time of purchase. Originally, both transfers were going to be valid for 24 hours, however, PATCO changed the time limit to prevent the unauthorized sale of PATCO transfers at Pennsylvania stations.
With the release of Septa Key, a new type of Freedom card is now required to purchase a transfer to the SEPTA system. The cost of a transfer is $2 with this system and it is debited directly from an account based Freedom Card account, provided a new Freedom Share card is used, which is compatible with both PATCO Freedom and SEPTA Key card systems.
Some westbound trains skip Collingswood, Westmont, and Haddonfield during the morning rush hour.
|PA||Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia||15–16th & Locust||SEPTA Regional Rail (at Suburban Station)
SEPTA Broad Street Line (at Walnut–Locust station)
|15–16th, 12–13th, Walnut–Locust, City Hall, 15th Street, and Suburban Stationsare all accessible via the Center City Commuter Connection|
|Washington Square West, Philadelphia||12–13th & Locust|
|9–10th & Locust||SEPTA City Bus||Bypassed 12:15am-4:45am when the station is closed.|
|Center City, Philadelphia||8th & Market||SEPTA Regional Rail (via concourse to Jefferson Station)
SEPTA Broad Ridge Spur
|Franklin Square||Closed since 1979 (Planned reopening December 2022)|
|NJ||Downtown, Camden||City Hall||NJ Transit Bus|
NJ Transit Bus
|All connections via Walter Rand Transportation Center|
|Whitman Park, Camden||Ferry Avenue||NJ Transit Bus|
|Collingswood||Collingswood||NJ Transit Bus||Bypassed by westbound rush hour express trains|
|Haddon Township||Westmont||NJ Transit Bus||Bypassed by westbound rush hour express trains|
|Haddonfield||Haddonfield||NJ Transit Bus: 451, 455, 457||Bypassed by westbound rush hour express trains|
|Cherry Hill||Woodcrest||Has three tracks for short turn local service to/from Philadelphia, exit 31 of I-295provides direct access|
|Lindenwold||Lindenwold||NJ Transit Atlantic City Line
NJ Transit Bus: 403, 459, 554