The great Pennsylvania debate of Wawa versus Sheetz has a clear win in one direction, at least temporarily. Yesterday, SEPTA — which handles transportation including bus, rapid transit, and commuter rail in the greater Philadelphia region — announced the opening of its newest terminal: Wawa Station, named for the regionally beloved sandwich shop and gas station of Mare of Easttown fame.
In a truly southeastern Pennsylvanian move, the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new station included Wawa breakfast and was followed by a “hoagie-wrapped” train making the trip to Wawa Station from the train line’s previous terminus of Elywn in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, NBC10 reported. The move represents the first extension of SEPTA’s rail lines since 1985 and the restoration of rail service to an area that hasn’t been served by train since 1986, according to Wawa’s press release.
It’s official! The ribbon is cut at the Wawa station that once transported milk from the Wawa Dairy into Philadelphia! Starting Sunday, it will be open for travel from Delco to Philly, providing even more convenience to our community ❤️ @SEPTA pic.twitter.com/yGiaGN7Yzl— Wawa (@Wawa) August 18, 2022
There’s a throwback to history here, too: In the early 1900s, milk from Wawa Dairy — which gave rise to the Wawa corporation we now know today — was transported by train from Delaware County to a “milk depot” in Philadelphia before being delivered to customers around the area.
But more conceptually, it proves Wawa’s absolute chokehold on Philadelphia and the Philadelphia-adjacent. As my colleague Meghan McCarron wrote last year, Wawa is more than a convenience store or a gas station — but a source of cult-like regional reverence, rife with nostalgia. Having grown up in the Philly suburbs and eaten many a late-night chicken fingers and mac and cheese bowl, Wawa remains a must-stop on every visit home. While I can’t say the photo op will be enough to draw me all the way to Wawa Station the next time I’m in Pennsylvania, I’ll certainly take advantage of the selfie moment the next time I find myself in Middletown Township (admittedly, an unlikely stop).
Luckily, Wawa’s name — which comes from a local Native American tribe’s term for Canada goose — will be enshrined in rail transportation glory for at least the next decade: The company is paying $5.4 million to have the station name for 10 years, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. Will Sheetz’s power grow in the meantime? We’ll have to wait and see — but I know which side I’m on.