During the 10-minute break between classes, commuter students bombard Berks Street in a rush to catch their anticipated train home or make it to their first class.
Much of their time is spent riding and waiting for trains, which adds up during the semester. How they spend that time represents the culture of the train station, which has grown in recent years.
Temple’s train station, located on Berks between Ninth and 10th streets, is close to most academic buildings, dorms and apartments. The station provides transportation for 2,488 passengers traveling to and from campus on weekdays, according to the SEPTA Annual Station Performance Review 2007 Fiscal Year Reports.
In fact, according to the Temple Station Area Redevelopment Plan, it is the fourth most-used train station in all of SEPTA’s transit system, connecting to every regional rail route.
In the early ’90s, SEPTA decided to relocate the train station from Ninth Street and Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue) to its current vicinity, costing approximately $10 million.
“The move was to position the station closer to the university campus,” said Gary Fairfax, press officer for SEPTA.
Ticket sales have increased since last year’s report from 1,988 to 2,488 this year – which could possibly be a result of Temple’s growing enrollment, recent lack of on-campus housing or simply its convenience.
“I can’t pay the cost of living at Temple and it’s only 15 minute train ride,” said John Davis, a junior BTMM major from Elkins Park.
“I’m commuting this semester because next semester I will be studying abroad, so I decided I would save some money for my parents,” said junior elementary and early education major Nicole Panzullo, originally from Norristown.
Many students choose to commute for personal reasons and to suit their individual preferences.
“I like being able to come home, and it’s easier than driving to school,” said Michelle Meginley, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major from Newtown. “The train is easier than driving and safer for me. Actually, it is relaxing and only slightly time-consuming.”
Waiting for the train also gives commuters downtime to do homework, eat lunch or socialize with other students.
“I have spoken to people, but our conversations end with the train ride,” said Maria Pouchnikova, a freshman journalism and French major from Woodlyn.
Some use the train-time as a chance to reconnect with old friends.
“I have met a lot of people on the train and am friends with them,” Davis said. “I met two people on the train who I talk to regularly on and off the train.”
There are, however, negative aspects. Timing is a concern since commuters base their schedules around what time they can catch the train.
“The train only comes once every hour, so I end up waiting at the train station for longer than I would like,” said Lorraine Mendoza, a chemistry major from North Philadelphia.
“I have to get up much earlier than I would if I lived on campus and I don’t get home until much later in the day,” Panzullo said.
A ticket machine is not provided at the Temple train station. However, students are given the opportunity to purchase a university train pass from the Bursar’s Office. Students can ride at a discounted price, between $400 and $600 a semester, and do not have to worry about having extra cash for their train tickets everyday.
Christanna Ciabattoni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org