HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — PennDOT is considering upgrades to train stations across the Midstate.
“It seems like a lot of the trains have been forgotten and I was not aware that there were so many people that rode the passenger train,” William Moore of Pittsburgh said. “It was kind of eye opening for me. I didn’t think it was as popular as what it is.”
What was once a main source of transportation is making a comeback. In recent years, the transportation industry has looked for ways to increase ridership, including improving the train stations.
“We see them as gateways to the community, so any way that we can further develop the station buildings to better serve the community, we’re certainly open to those discussions,” PennDOT press secretary Erin Waters-Trasatt said.
PennDOT is in the early stages of finding developers interested in improving stations from Harrisburg to Downingtown.
“We can partner with the private sector to do development that makes these train station areas more livable, more walkable, more accessible, and more appealing for people to use even as our ridership continues to grow,” Waters-Trasatt said.
The development opportunities include parking upgrades, retail space, restaurants, and apartments. Some passengers said they would not mind a place to store their luggage.
“In case you have a long wait for your train, you can leave your luggage there and go out and explore the city for a bit or go out to the mall. Not to carry your luggage everywhere, instead of having to wait with your stuff, that’d be really cool,” Austin Landes from Shippensburg said.
The project would be funded by both the state and the developer.
“The taxpayers aren’t just getting better train stations and better areas around them, but the cost of improving those stations could be decreased because we could share in any revenues from the private development,” said Waters-Trasatt.
PennDOT says this is the very early stages of the project. They are in the process of meeting with prospective developers to hear their ideas for the train stations.