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Old 02-26-2012, 05:20 PM
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Hello, we are possibly moving from New Orleans to Eastern PA. I am considering accepting a job in Norristown, PA while my wife may end up working in either Harrisburg, PA or Philly. We are seeking advise an what location, (community), would be a good compromise for our commuting to work. Also, we both prefer to use a mass transit system, park-n-ride, (bus or rail service), for our commute to work. We are looking to rent a home in a somewhat rural community between the two cities.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:10 AM
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Norristown to Harrisburg is dang far. Reading would be the best compromise( in between) but thats still a pretty long commute either way. 222 and 422 are terrible for traffic. No rail service. Bus service is extremely doubtful, although they do have daily busses to Philly. I'm thinking Norristown has rail service to Philly or at least bus service. And Philly has rail service to Lancaster and also to Harrisburg.
There are plenty of great rural communities inbetween. Oley, Wernersville, eastern Lebanon county, Fleetwood, New Holland, Honeybrook.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:39 AM
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There's nothing rural between Norristown and Philly but I sure wouldn't want to commute to Harrisburg for one person and Norristown for the other. It's like the worst of two worlds. Bad commutes all around. The best scenario would for your wife to work in Philly and then live in any of the western suburbs. You are also going to have a heck of a time finding something rural with mass transit. The reason rural places are rural is because there is NO mass transit.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:50 AM
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Your wife needs to decide where she's going to work to get better help from this forum. Commuting to Harrisburg would be undoable in my estimation. There's no mass transit in "rural" PA. Even a commute taking the train between Phila and Harrisburg is a long ordeal with lots of stops. There are lots of nice Phila suburbs that have grown up around the regional train lines including Norristown. You can google maps that show all the AMTRAK stations and SEPTA regional commuter lines [this is probably your ticket to commuting] in Philadelphia County, I was just on several different maps and you're either going up the "Main Line" or up to Northeast Phila. I commuted from Bucks County to downtown Phila on the regional rail system for 4 years, got a lot of work done on the train and it was so much less stressful than driving. You also may want to blog on the Philadelphia site for more detailed info. Good luck.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:38 PM
Location: Midwest transplant
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Unless you are traveling and don't need to be in an office during the day, the commute between the two would be next to impossible. Norristown/Philadelphia has many more options for housing, mass transit, etc. To live between Norristown and Harrisburg would throw you into Berks County/northern Chester County (Pottstown area) and there is no way out except 222/422 for commutes, both horrible roads for getting any where on time.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:34 PM
Location: Downtown Harrisburg
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Your mass transit options to / from Harrisburg aside from the local CAT bus routes are limited to Amtrak and Greyhound. Maybe Megabus, but I wouldn't depend on them for a daily commute. The Harrisburg-to-Philly rail service is apparently pretty dependable, but you will see occasional delays for inclement weather.

Without any traffic, it's probably about a 90-minute drive from Harrisburg to Norristown. As others have pointed out, the roads between the two are not very commuter friendly. 422 is out of the question due to SEVERE congestion around the Lebanon area. The PA Turnpike (I-76) is actually pretty good, but a trip from Harrisburg to Philly is around $6 IIRC each way. And because the exits are so far apart, when there's an accident, you WILL be stuck for an hour or more. Also, the Turnpike doesn't go directly into Norristown. You'll need to jump on the local roads for that. If you can live with these shortcomings, it's an easy (if not somewhat boring) commute. Many people do it every day.

If I was going to do something like this (live halfway between Norristown and Harrisburg, and commute to them both), I'd find someplace within walking distance of an Amtrak station. The train will be the most hassle-free way to do it -- but your costs will add up quickly.

Frankly, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably move to Norristown and commute to Harrisburg. Don't get me wrong, Harrisburg is a great city and there are plenty of fine cities between the two. But why do it half-baked? Norristown is going to put you in closer proximity to more cultural / education / entertainment / transit / employment opportunities than any of the in-between cities, or even Harrisburg.

If you would still prefer to meet halfway, just remember that the only reliable routes between the two are Amtrak and I-76. I would take I-476 north to I-81 south to Harrisburg before taking 422. It's a few hundred miles out of your way, but will probably take about as long and will certainly be a lot more hassle-free.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:49 PM
Location: Blue Bell, PA and Jim Thorpe, PA
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I live about ten minutes from Norristown in Blue Bell. There are certainly options but you would absolutely have to avoid 422. It has become a nightmare during rush hour.

The only way I can think of to make your commutes even halfway manageable would be to live right off the turnpike and to commute off hours....I leave my house at six AM some days and some roads are starting to back up already. And I have nowhere near the distance you would be dealing with.

Probably have to forget transit. Amtrak pricing is very high.

You will have a much easier time with Norristown / Philly than with Norristown / Harrisburg.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:34 PM
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I did a commute daily by car from reading, pa to norristown, pa, by car. Via 422, in good conditions is one hour, however I did have semi weird hours at my job. It's doable only because I wouldn't be on the severely congested parts of 422 (Lebanon area, then past rt 29 eastbound). Harrisburg from norristown... Would drive me to suicide! However, norristown to Philly... 30 mins by train, or car (add up to two hours by car if there's a problem on 76(or ridge pike if you're desparate!)/476/95.) there are a ton of nice boring places to live out here in berks county, and there's talk of tolling 422 between douglassville (Pottstown bypass) through KOP to fund septa reopening to reading via regional rail. It used to be open 30 years ago, and it's not a coincidence reading has suffered as a city as a result. But, nothing is final yet. If they'd do that, there'd be no reason why you guys couldn't move to reading, as you'd be only paying for the maintenace on one car. But still, reading to Harrisburg sucks but perhaps they would open amtrak for that one day. Despite it's bad reputation, reading isn't That bad, I've lived there for a while. And you could live in fleetwood or someplace, and park and ride. But for now, I'd tell her that Philly wins. Plus Philly is cool as hell! Tons of history, nightlife (maybe less than you're used to LOL), but you'll love it. Either way, welcome to PA!!!
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:16 PM
Location: Philly
9,688 posts, read 11,957,046 times
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Originally Posted by DowntownHarrisburg View Post
If I was going to do something like this (live halfway between Norristown and Harrisburg, and commute to them both), I'd find someplace within walking distance of an Amtrak station. The train will be the most hassle-free way to do it -- but your costs will add up quickly.
costs on the keystone route are pretty reasonable and probably aren't out of line with a turnpike drive. it's the only answer in this situation I think. maybe downingtown?

Originally Posted by DowntownHarrisburg View Post
Frankly, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably move to Norristown and commute to Harrisburg.
if you lived in ardmore you'd have a long train commute to harrisburg but you could do it, and there's the (P&W) trolley to norristown.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:59 PM
Location: Southington, CT
91 posts, read 57,532 times
Reputation: 49
Well, there actually IS a freeway route labeled "Harrisburg" which starts in either Norristown or Plymouth Meeting (next to Norristown), but that doesn't mean the two are close. For that matter there is also a "New Jersey" exit from 476 in Norristown which actually takes you to the NJ suburbs of NYC, which are nothing like the New Jersey most Philadelphians are used to. Personally if I left New Orleans for the Philly area, I would have to live in South/Southwest Philly or parts of Delaware County or parts of Delaware or parts of NJ, where it has a Southern/Gulf feel.
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