Save Cornwells Heights
Monday, August 29, 2005
Hello, CWH commuters. I would say, “Good morning,” but I’m very concerned it may not be. A great American city may be badly damaged, if not destroyed, today. It is 7:30 a.m. as I write this, and New Orleans and vicinity along the Gulf Coast are in grave danger from the winds and the waves of hurricane Katrina. Saving Cornwells Heights Amtrak service is something we all care very much about, and I’m just back from meeting the 6:55 train to get the boarding count, but today is a reminder that perspectives change, and perhaps today is not the day to lament our own sorrows and fears, for there are so many others in peril. Today they need or thoughts, hearts, and prayers. That said, here is the news:
I had an excellent meeting with Congressman Fitzpatrick Saturday morning in Doylestown. Thanks to the many questionnaires and ongoing research information he is receiving, I believe he now has a very firm understanding of what the Cornwells Heights Amtrak service means, not only to present and future riders, but to the future economic development of Lower Bucks County and Northeast Philadelphia. He will now go to bat for us directly with David Gunn, the president of Amtrak. It is my preliminary guess, though, that the destruction about to be wrought throughout the South by hurricane Katrina, affecting Amtrak lines and service as it will, may push our agenda back a bit on the calendar. But on the whole, I’m feeling more optimistic about the prospects for saving our station. Other politicians are coming into the loop, too.
I am not writing what I had thought I would write as of last week. A few days and a hurricane can change so much.
I am reminded of another day, a very beautiful late summer day, when I boarded the 8:11 at Cornwells Heights and napped in fits and starts on the way to New York, sometimes opening my eyes to enjoy the purest blue of a cloudless sky. It was shortly after we left Newark, resting with my eyes closed, my seat slightly reclined, and my ears lazily filtering the sounds of the first coach on the Keystone run, when a cell phone behind me began to ring, and I heard the words, “A plane hit the World Trade Center?!” A few minutes later, the towers came into view. They had not fallen. I did not see them fall. But from a Hudson ferry home later that day, I saw the cloud they left behind. We were one of the last trains that got into Manhattan before they closed the tunnels. In a strange way, it helped to be with people that day, to know the shared feeling of loss and questions on the streets and in the eyes of everyone I met. It helped to be with people that day.
Expect press coverage this week, and I hope to get the hard sell on for New York commuters frustrated by the mid-Jersey rat race once Katrina settles down and the wound is bound up well enough to consider the possibility of good news again. I may be working the other side of the tracks at the station this week as well, since there are many hundreds there who can send in a form of concern, even if not reporting of their current Amtrak ridership. Please keep New Orleans and the Gulf in your thoughts today, for we knew a different-and-yet-similar day once, and their thoughts were with us.
Take care, and I’ll see you at the station. Today I’ll ride the 8:11. It will help to take the train, and to be with people today.