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Old 01-17-2008, 01:56 AM
15 posts, read 70,373 times
Reputation: 10


Hi everyone,

I am living in L.A. now but will be on assignment for my job for just over a year in the Lehigh Valley. My job will be in the Allentown/Bethlehem area. The problem is I am a huge city person and just want to figure out how treacherous/bearable the reverse commute from Philly to the Lehigh Valley and back would be. My brother and several friends live in Philly and since this whole thing's temporary anyway, I can't really justify to myself "getting to know" life in the LV.

For personal context's sake, my commute in LA now is 40 minutes and it is totally bearable. When I lived in New York, my commute was 45 minutes and also bearable. I understand that many people on here will say any commute, when optional, should be avoided, but I just want to say that I am aware this would be a sacrifice, the point is it's one I am willing to make.

I have read/heard that the commute from LV to Philly and back is about an 1h15 each way. Is this correct? Does it vary? (If so, what's the best and worst time?) How long will it take -- with and without traffic -- in the other direction (which is what I would be doing)? An hour-1h15 commute sounds all right to me. (Not ideal, of course, but all right. Ideally, someone here will say it'll range between 45 min on a good day to 1h15 on a bad day.)

Also, I know there is no public transit/commuter rail that connects Philly and the LV directly, but is there a park & ride type place somewhere halfway? For example, I have friends in Boston and NYC who drive halfway to a station and then park and ride the second half. Where is the last station that would work for me? (Doylestown, maybe?)

Thanks so much for your help in advance.

Last edited by lolabelle; 01-17-2008 at 02:19 AM..
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:14 AM
8,983 posts, read 21,161,808 times
Reputation: 3807
According to a map search I just did, it's 64 miles so 75 minutes sounds about right. If your job is closer to Allentown you could take I-476 aka the Blue Route to and from Philly. The Lansdale train station is closest going this route.

If your job's closer to Bethlehem, you could take route 611 down to Philly. The Doylestown station would be the first/last train you'd find this way.

Reverse commuting into the 'burbs and exurbs is not an uncommon thing here but the Lehigh Valley isn't necessarily known as a hotbed of opportunity so you would be a rare long-distance commuter there. There are a couple private bus companies that offer service from downtown to downtown (Carl Bieber is one, perhaps) but I don't think the critical mass for more regular service is there like in other more sprawled-out metros.

One alternative to consider would be to live in Ambler. Its downtown area is interesting and you would be slightly closer to Philly than the Lehigh Valley. After a 2 1/2 to 3-hour daily commute, you may not be in the condition to fully enjoy what the city has to offer, as it is.
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:24 AM
1,000 posts, read 3,601,896 times
Reputation: 264
Philly to Bethlehem, you're talking 1.25 hours at the fastest IMO.

It's never going to be much shorter than that.
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:59 AM
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
34 posts, read 144,280 times
Reputation: 19
Thumbs down at least 90 minutes each way from Center City in rush hour

I would caution against a reverse commute. I live in the Lehigh Valley and IMO the cost of living is much lower up there. Off-peak travel can be easily done between the two areas in under 75 minutes, but rush hour traffic really requires a minimum 90 minute window. Also the cost of auto insurance & parking is much higher in Philly.
Personally I drive from Whitehall to Fort Washington & ride the R5 into the city, which is the opposite of what you'd be looking at. I plan 2 hours to commute each way, but can be there sooner if things go well. I also work a schedule that does not require me to regularly work overtime, so basically I leave after 7am and return home before 7pm. It works for my family, but might not work for you.
I would recommend you visit the Lehigh Valley before making any concrete plans. There is a thriving little city buzz emerging in both Allentown and Bethlehem. Plenty of people move from Philly to the area and also a lot Philly suburban students attend the area's private colleges.
It really doesn't compare to a city like Philly though!
Let me know if you'd like more ideas.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:41 AM
Location: PA -> Denver, CO
205 posts, read 820,911 times
Reputation: 58
The buses to the Lehigh Valley can't get you there for a work day. You're going to have to drive up 476. I do the drive weekly, it takes me 75 minutes when there's no traffic, and I'm passing everyone. Realistically, expect 90 minutes to get there, and 2+ hrs to gets back, because of Philly traffic. It can be done, it will just take a lot of time in the car.

The Lehigh Valley isn't really a great place for young professionals, I have tons of friends there that go to NYC and Philly almost every weekend, just because there isn't enough new stuff going on in the Valley.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:54 AM
1,983 posts, read 7,516,182 times
Reputation: 418
You can't do it from the Lehigh Valley. Don't even try it. I once did a 78 mile commute one way in NJ for one year and if you leave early it is possible, although still insane. But NJ has a far superior highway system. The same commute in PA is horrendous.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:57 AM
Location: Morrison, CO
34,228 posts, read 18,565,195 times
Reputation: 25798
Why don't you live in northern Bucks County and split the difference? Easier commute to work and good access to the city on weekends. Yes, I know its not the same as living in the city, but its a thought.
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Old 10-01-2008, 10:38 AM
4,416 posts, read 9,137,024 times
Reputation: 4318
I would allow extra time. With traffic problems it could take a full 2 hrs. Usually it'll be smooth sailing until you hit the Lansdale area and then heavier traffic will be prevalant as you get closer to Philly. You are doing the right thing. There is not much in the Lehizzle Valley. I would reccomend spending some time in Bethlehem though. It's a decent town with some good restaurants and bars. You should enjoy yourself there. But, Allenswamp is either a ghetto or full of wannabees with backwards baseball caps, wearing flipflops, t-shirts, and eating wings as if they are some fine dining delicacy.
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Old 10-01-2008, 10:42 AM
13,254 posts, read 33,513,664 times
Reputation: 8103
hmm, Wonder what happened to the OP. The post at the top was done in January and it was her last post on this site.
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:50 PM
2,269 posts, read 7,586,681 times
Reputation: 962
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
hmm, Wonder what happened to the OP. The post at the top was done in January and it was her last post on this site.
I've noticed people do that a lot. I'm always curious to know what happened.
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