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PATCO Celebrates 40 Years Of Service
On February 15, 1969 Richard Nixon made his first trip to Camp David as President, Raymond Burr as Ironsides appeared on the Cover of TV Guide, These Eyes by the Guess Who topped the music charts and PATCO began service between Lindenwold, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Forty years and 417 million riders later, the rail line is generally considered to be one of the most reliable mass transit operations in the country. And, as it turns 40, PATCO continues to be “Better than Ever.”
$100 million is being spent to modernize 14.5 mile route. In addition, $160 million to $180 million will be spent rebuilding the 121 Budd and Canadian Vickers transit car fleet. An Alternatives Analysis of extensions of PATCO service in both Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia is in progress. And, PATCO is also completing the installation of a new camera surveillance system in its stations, on its platforms, and in its parking lots.
PATCO President, John J. Matheussen, says “40 years of exceptional service is a tribute to all those who are involved with keeping the trains operating around the clock seven days a week. We would also like to thank our loyal customers for making the decision to ride PATCO.”
PATCO General Manager, Bob Box, says “PATCO has always had a strong focus on customer service. We recognize that our customers will continue to use our service as long as we provide a good product at a reasonable cost. We have made many improvements in recent years that have enhanced the customer experience.” He cited initiatives such as the new Smart Card Fare Collection System, the Transit Ambassador Program, the new Camera Surveillance Project, station upgrades, a new interactive website and additional Public Safety staffing as examples of efforts to improve the service that PATCO delivers.
DRPA Chairman, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, says “PATCO’s 40 years of service has led to improving the economy on both sides of the river. Easy access to Center City Philadelphia is good for employers, businesses and tourism.”
PATCO Assistant General Manager, Cheryl Spicer, says “the future of PATCO rests in its legacy of the last 40 years of meeting our customers’ needs of being on time.”
A number of special events are planned as part of the 40th birthday celebration. 2009 will see the launching of Rider Appreciation Thursdays. Held on the fourth Thursday of the month, DRPA and PATCO staff will be at a different station each month greeting customers with small tokens of “thank you”.
DRPA Vice-Chair, Jeff Nash, believes Rider Appreciation days and other customer events add value to PATCO’s exceptional service. According to Nash, “we appreciate the loyalty of our riders and plan to show them their patronage is not taken for granted.”
PATCO will also be partnering with schools and non-profits in contests related to transportation and commuting. For example, students in grades 1-12 will be invited to take part in art and poetry contests with PATCO themes. ReadStrong events will host local students for a tour of Lindenwold and PATCO’s ticketing and fare collection process.
PATCO’s website, www.ridepatco.org, will soon be featuring a new Memory Lane Webpage. The Webpage will feature employee and customer memories. Currently, there is an archival photo slideshow of PATCO’s early days.
The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross Bridges, PATCO, and the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal. The DRPA also owns the RiverLink Ferry.
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