Cursing the storm that shut down regional rail (and maybe zapped Billy Penn)
By the time the storm hit Philly around 6 p.m. yesterday it had already blown through Chester County, leaving many of the residents without electricity until 10 p.m. The damage it did to rail lines is still being felt. As of this morning the Thorndale-Downingtown-Whitford-Exton leg of SEPTA's Paoli-Thorndale line was still not running. And there are reports now that sometime during the fracas that left approximately 140,000 people in the region without electricity, the William Penn statue atop City Hall was struck by lightning. Very cinematic, Philly, very Back to the Future.
All of that before the weather cleared and around 8 p.m. turned the sky a molten gold color. Be prepared to see some spectacular photos of the skies before, during and after the storm (Philly Love Notes won twitter with their composite).
One of the risks of commuting in from Chester County every day is that every winter after a nasty snowfall I get stranded in Philadelphia for a night or two, and every summer after some storm or another knocks out the electrical wires for SEPTA and Amtrak.
Yesterday, by the time I got to Suburban Station, the Paoli-Thorndale line was already running only as far as Malvern. I got on the 6:07 irrespective of that because the conductors were helpful in telling me the right combination of buses I could take from Paoli to get myself, if not all the way home, at least close enough that my husband would be able to come pick me up.
Unfortunately, after a half hour in the train, stalled at the end of the platform at Suburban Station, we were told SEPTA had temporarily canceled service on all regional rail trains. We trundled out dejectedly, milled around Suburban Station with nothing to do but obsess or swamp the eateries, and talk to Inquirer reporters about the sad state of affairs.
Eventually all the stranded commuters were directed to go back to the platforms where they had originally been waiting for their trains because, we were told, restoral of service was imminent. I couldn't help wondering, as I rushed down the stairs in a crush of people, what if this sort of storm happens at the end of September, while the Pope is here and SEPTA is already tasked beyond capacity? I may have made the resolution to bring a sleeping bag in to work with me before I hit the last step onto the platform
But ... not so fast. Those of us with stops further than Malvern on that cursed Paoli-Thorndale (let's just call it CPT) line weren't going anywhere. Of course not — we live in the hinterlands where trees fall on tracks.
We were stuck. Hotel vacancies filled up fast. Some hotels took advantage and charged twice their usual rate. Sigh.
Not that it was great in Chesco (nor indeed Delco or Montco) where not only were people sweltering without electricity to run fans or a.c. on one of the hotter days of the year so far, but both trees and lines were down.
Of course, the CPT still isn't running to or from the final four stations, I really hope by the end of the work day it is. But if not ... can I have another one of those golden-sky nights, please?