Pretty soon, you’ll be able to hop a train to Wawa Station.
SEPTA is opening a brand new Regional Rail stop next month, lengthening its tentacles into Delaware County by 3.5 miles. It will become the final stop on the Media/Elwyn Line, which will now be known as the Media/Wawa line.
Yes, that Wawa. The privately owned company has paid SEPTA for naming rights to the station.
For the transit authority, the deal checks off two major goals: increasing non-fare revenue (to the tune of a few million bucks) and growing ridership. The new station is projected to carry 950 people a day, per The Inquirer, with connections to two bus routes and a 600-space parking area.
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Here are details and background on the new stop.
Why this station?
The new Wawa station sits across from the Wawa Dairy, where the company bottles milk for distribution, and adjacent to the company’s headquarters.
But the area where this station sits was dubbed Wawa before the well-known and widely beloved convenience stores existed.
It was home to a tribe of Lenni Lenape Indigenous people, who noticed it was a favorite stop for migrating geese — which they called “wawa.” By the time settlers from Philadelphia and New Jersey arrived in the 18th century, the area was known by that moniker.
The company, of course, pays homage to that namesake with its goose logo, and its mascot, Wally Goose.
How much did Wawa pay?
For $5.4 million, Wawa has naming rights to the station for the next decade, through 2032.
When does it open?
Has SEPTA sold naming rights before?
This is SEPTA’s fifth naming rights deal since 2010, according to the transit authority.
Jefferson Station was so-named in 2014 for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in 2014, in a five-year, $3.9 million deal. Before that, it was known as Market East.
The station formerly known as University City has been Penn Medicine Station since 2020, when the health system inked a five-year, $3.3 million deal with SEPTA.
NRG Energy paid $5.3 million for a five-year naming deal on the Broad Street Line, taking the final stop in South Philly away from AT&T in 2018. The telecom giant had paid $5 million for five years of naming rights to Pattison Station in 2010.
Compared to these transactions, which average out to around $875k/year of named station, it could seem like Wawa got something of a bargain with its $540k/year deal. However, these other examples are all in Philadelphia proper, and have much higher ridership than an end-of-line stop out in Delco.
Wait, the whole line name is changing? Has that happened before?
It makes sense that Wawa would be incorporated into the name of the Regional Rail line formerly known as Media/Elwyn. Each of SEPTA’s commuter rail lines includes in its title the outlying station furthest from Center City.
Jefferson and Penn Medicine stations are both Regional Rail hubs, with multiple lines running through them in Center City. NRG is the end of the Broad Street Line, but that’s not part of the same naming system.
“SEPTA does not have any naming rights agreements for lines, just stations,” spokesperson Kelly Greene told Billy Penn.
What’ll the station look like, is it fancy?
The new Wawa station will be ADA compliant and have a pedestrian underpass, as well as the 600-space parking deck and easy access to U.S. Route 1. It’ll also have bathrooms (!), an amenity provided at some RR stations, but not all.
How long has this been in the works?
For a while. Way back in 2006, Wawa Inc. sold a 4.7-acre tract of land to Delaware County, with the intention that it would later transfer to SEPTA. At the time, reports said the project would cost $51.3 million and take five years to complete.
By 2018, the project’s budget had grown and the date of completion moved to 2021. COVID-19 and supply chain issues caused additional delays, spokesperson Green said.
The final cost of the project was $197 million.
The idea of sending trains to Wawa isn’t totally novel. SEPTA service stretched out in that direction decades ago, but the transit authority shut off service past Elwyn in 1986.
In a related push, residents of West Chester are trying to restore service between their borough and Wawa, so they have a public transit connection to the Regional Rail line. The West Chester Borough Council is backing a proposal to do that on a smaller budget by using existing battery-operated rail car infrastructure.