This photo essay encompasses the daily routine of my longtime friend, Lauren Janczewski, as she embarks on her journey riding the PATCO Speedline train from the Collingswood station to the Lindenwold station to transfer onto a New Jersey Transit bus en route to Camden County College. The topic relates to my “life as I know it” because I use the same means of transportation to get to school. Lauren and I congregate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Collingswood PATCO (Port Authority Transit Corporation) station’s lobby before venturing up the stairs to the platform where we board our train. Both Lauren and I are in similar situations in terms of not owning vehicles and the fact that regardless of not having our own car, we would most likely opt to use the Speedline to save money and conserve gas as it is very affordable, only costing $3.20 for a round trip to and from Lindenwold. And with the extremely close access to the Speedline station, living a block away from each other and only a few strides across the street to the station, the Speedline has become a predominant form of transportation for both of us not exclusively to get to school, but also for work in Camden and spur-of-the-moment trips to Philadelphia. The point that I am alluding to is essentially that the PATCO Speedline has become a part of our identity in a sense as we rely on it regularly and hopefully this compilation of shots of Lauren will present a good glimpse through our eyes on the tracks.
I viewed this ordinary occurrence of Lauren and I as a prime photography opportunity because for the both of us, riding the PATCO Speedline has become second nature. Yet, to many who have never climbed aboard a PATCO train or even heard of the Speedline before, riding a train through wooded areas like we do on the way to Lindenwold or gliding over the Delaware on the Ben Franklin Bridge with the Philadelphia skyline in perfect sight can create a fascinating experience in their minds. I grasped this topic as a chance to show a “behind the scenes” look almost to those who may have or never have ridden the PATCO Speedline. It is a simple concept; purchase a ticket, follow the directory map, wait to board the next incoming train towards Philadelphia (15th & 16th & Locust Street being the final stop across the bridge) and Lindenwold on the platform, and following the signs at each station to reach your destination with ease. But, the constant hassle of schedule changes and express trains in the morning are aspects that only a regular passenger can truly portray.
In a way, this photo essay can serve as an in-depth perspective of our lives (Lauren and I) on the morning of school days. Although the process becomes mundane at times, I still look at it as an adventure of sorts every time I step on board. Riding the train as a kid, it would be a treat to look outside the window and watch the surroundings swirl by at a rapid pace. For instance, as I did as a child with my grandmother, I will on occasion trek to the front car on the platform and plant myself in the very first seat next to the conductor if it is available to act like I’m bracing for a roller coaster ride. As I see kids and their grandparents alike do the same today, it brings back nostalgic memories. With that being said, it ties into my friendship with Lauren and how we have grown up together, walking to events in town side-by-side, and we now ride the train to school as fellow commuting college students next to each other as well. Like everything in life, this everyday ride of ours will come full circle in the end as displayed in this essay.