Friday, January 22, 2010

No (New) Hope At Bucks County's Stealth Transit Hub

The Trans-Bridge Bus can be seen parked on S. Clinton Street at Doylestown Station.

There are some great getaway bicycle destinations that are just beyond SEPTA's reach. You can drive there, and even car-lite ZipCar and PhillyCarShare members can get there for a healthy chunk of change. But getting there in a car does increase one's carbon footprint and takes away the sense of adventure - of being far away when you are not really far away at all. The unique experience of a one way bike trip is normally available only to those who take public transportation.

And sometimes you can get there from here without a car, It's just that no one has made the effort to make it easy. A perfect example is the Doylestown Train Station. In addition to the SEPTA R5 Regional Rail the station is served by Trans-Bridge Bus Lines serving New Hope, Frenchtown, Bethlehem and New York City. SEPTA Route 55 and Doylestown Rush Circulator buses also stop at or close to the station.

You would expect a transportation nexus to have the amenities to make connections easy. But the feeling you get is that Doylestown is the end of the line. There are no signs directing you from the train to the bus. If you ask the SEPTA ticket agent about information regarding Trans-Bridge Lines you will probably get a shoulder shrug in return. You cannot buy Trans-Bridge tickets or find schedules at the station (the driver will let you buy a ticket at the first stop). If there is a relationship between SEPTA and Trans-Bridge it is adversarial-SEPTA will ticket and tow Trans-Bridge passengers who park in their commuter lot.

View Doylestown Transit Hub in a larger map

Trans-Bridge accepts bicycles if the luggage compartment beneath the bus is free. They can charge you $7 plus make you sign a damage waiver. However I have taken Trans-Bridge several times and have been able to take my bike without charge.

A bit of planning ahead of time will get you to your destination. But why make it so hard? I would encourage people to write to SEPTA customer service and ask that better connecting bus information be made available at Doylestown and other R5 stations. Simply making schedules available would be a great start.


Andrew J. Besold said...

The roads are fairly bikable from Doylestown already as long as you choose wisely. Riding in a circular arc starting to the northeast one could put together a really entertaining point to point ride tying in with the R3 at West Trenton or Yardley PA.

Point to point riding using NJ Transit has become a favorite of mine in the past several months.