Harrisburg Transportation Center

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Harrisburg Transportation Center

The Harrisburg Transportation Center (formerly Pennsylvania Station, Harrisburg or Harrisburg Central Railroad Station) is a large railway station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It is located on the eastern edge of Downtown Harrisburg between the intersections of Aberdeen and Market Streets and 4th and Chestnut Streets. The well-situated station is the primary hub for passenger rail and intercity bus services in the Harrisburg metropolitan area and South Central Pennsylvania.


The current station is the third on the site. Though technically a union station (meaning it was utilized by several railways), it was never identified as such in publications such as the Official Guide of the Railroads and Steam Navigation Lines or Pennsylvania Railroad Timetables. The first two stations were shared by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Reading Railroad, Northern Central Railway (NCR), and the Cumberland Valley Railroad (CVR). The third (and current) station excluded the Reading Railroad, which built its own station in 1856, and the CVR maintained a small depot adjoining the much larger NCR/PRR station. The CVR station was razed sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The Reading Railroad discontinued passenger service into Harrisburg in the 1950s and its station was torn down in the early 1960s to make room for a new post office.

The current station was built by PRR in 1887 and significantly rebuilt with its distinctive barn roof in 1905 following a serious fire in 1904. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and is also designated as a National Historic Landmark. The station is one of the few railway stations in the United States that still has a train shed above the tracks. It also has a red brick exterior, unlike many of the still-used U.S. railway stations built slightly later in the early 1900s that have white stone facing, such as 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and Union Station in Washington, D.C.

Building Uses

The building, which is owned by Amtrak and managed and operated by the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority, contains office space above the building's main lobby that is used by various tenants. It also contains a moderately large meeting room called the Pennsylvania Room that can be used for meetings and other large gatherings. Passenger facilities are currently limited, but the station does have a newsstand on the first floor that sells newspapers, magazines, food, and beverages. It also has various food and beverage vending machines in the intercity bus terminal portion of the building on the basement floor. Non-retail facilities include small lockers on the basement floor for short-term personal storage and both restrooms and pay phones on both the first and basement floors.

Nearby Uses and Attractions

The station is within a half-mile walking distance of most jobs and cultural amenities in downtown Harrisburg. The Rachel Carson Building, which houses the offices for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), is located on the opposite corner of Aberdeen and Market Streets from the Transportation Center. Most other state buildings and offices in the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, including the Pennsylvania State Capitol building itself, are also located within convenient walking distance of the HTC, to the northwest of the station. Most Dauphin County and Harrisburg city offices are located to the southwest of the HTC near the intersection of 2nd and Market Streets, within 3 blocks of the station. Harrisburg University of Science and Technology's new academic building is located at the corner of Fourth and Market streets, one block southwest of the station. Strawberry Square, Harrisburg's downtown shopping mall, is located approximately 1½ blocks west of the station, while the Whitaker Center, a science and arts center that contains an IMAX theater, a more conventional performance theater, and other science and arts-related attractions, is located roughly 2 blocks southwest of the station along Market Street. Another performance theater, Forum Place, is located about 1.5 blocks north of the Transportation Center. Finally, most of the bars and upscale restaurants in downtown Harrisburg are less than a half-mile west of the station, along 2nd Street.

Transportation Services
Intercity rail

Amtrak provides service to the station via the Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian routes, which operate along the Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor. The Harrisburg Transportation Center is the western terminus of Amtrak's Keystone Service, which provides the bulk of the Amtrak service to and from Harrisburg. Primary cities served on Amtrak to and from Harrisburg include Lancaster, Philadelphia, and New York to the east and Altoona, Johnstown, and Pittsburgh to the west. Both staffed and Quik-Trak machine ticket service are available for all departures and red cap service is also available. In Federal Fiscal Year 2008, it was the 2nd busiest Amtrak station in Pennsylvania and 21st busiest in the United States. It ranks slightly ahead of the Lancaster Station in both categories (Lancaster is 3rd and 22nd respectively).

Intercity bus

There are four intercity bus operators (Greyhound Lines, Bieber Tourways/Bieber Trailways, Fullington Trailways, and Susquehanna Trailways) that provide service to the station. Some of the key cities and large towns served with one-seat rides by each bus operator are as follows:

  • Greyhound Lines - Allentown, Altoona, Easton, Johnstown, King of Prussia, Lewistown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College
  • Bieber Tourways & Trailways - Hershey, Kutztown, Lancaster, Lebanon, Norristown, Reading, York
  • Greyhound Lines/Bieber Tourways & Trailways pooled service - Hazleton, Pottsville, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, York
  • Fullington Trailways - Lewistown, State College
  • Susquehanna Trailways - Lewisburg, Sunbury, Williamsport
  • Greyhound Lines - Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Newark, New York, St. Louis
  • Bieber Tourways & Trailways - New York
  • Greyhound Lines/Bieber Tourways & Trailways pooled service - Baltimore, Binghamton, Washington

With both Greyhound and the various Trailways operators, many in-state and out-of-state cities and towns beyond those listed can be reached via transfers.

Connecting Services

The local public transit operator in the Harrisburg area, Capital Area Transit (CAT), has many local and express bus routes that stop either along Aberdeen Street almost immediately outside the Transportation Center or 1/2 block away on Market Street between 4th Street and Aberdeen Street. These nearby CAT stops that are within easy walking distance of the Harrisburg Transportation Center enable convenient transfers between local public transit and intercity rail and bus services.

The public transit provider in York County, Rabbit Transit, operates its commuter-oriented RabbitEXPRESS bus service on weekdays between the city of York and downtown Harrisburg. Like the Capital Area Transit buses, the RabbitEXPRESS does not stop at the HTC itself but does have stops within one block of the facility.

Finally, R & J Transportation, a charter/tour bus company, has scheduled weekday, line route commuter service between Schuylkill County and downtown Harrisburg. R & J has stops within one block of the HTC, though no tickets for R & J's service are available at the Transportation Center.