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Hedy Cerwinka Selected as Silverliner V's Honorary First Rider

As their train pulled into the Cynwyd Station on the morning of Friday, Oct. 29, Hedy Cerwinka and her husband Gene Mele were met with a pleasant surprise. Their line had been selected for the inaugural trip of the first new Silverliner V Regional Rail train placed in regular passenger service.

"This is nice," said Cerwinka. "I love the big windows."

Mele, referring to LCD screens that displayed travel information and time said, "I'm impressed with all the fancy electronics."

On the short ride into town, Cerwinka received a second surprise. She was selected as the "Honorary First Rider" of the new trains. All riders onboard were given a "First on V" commemorative key chain, but as their representative, Cerwinka also received a complimentary monthly TrailPass.

Cerwinka was the perfect choice for the "first rider" designation. Every weekday morning, she and Mele use the Cynwyd Line to commute to their jobs in Center City. Unless he has an early class, they ride and sit together on the train and have been doing so since they moved to Cynwyd six years ago. The Cynwyd Station is just a 10 minute walk from their home. Once the train arrives in Philadelphia, he gets off at 30th Street Station and walks to the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a theoretical physicist and professor. She continues to Suburban Station to her office upstairs in the same building where she is a coordinator for a program that hires Hispanic seniors to conduct environmental outreach.

Cerwinka and Mele are proponents of public transportation. They proudly boast that their car stays parked in their driveway and is only used when they need to get groceries or go to the gym for a workout. They encourage their neighbors to try transit too. In addition to the Cynwyd Station, the Paoli/Thorndale Line also serves their community.

After Mele got off at his regular stop, Cerwinka continued to Suburban Station. After witnessing the train bursting through a banner declaring "SEPTA Welcomes the New Silverliner V", Cerwinka was invited to take part in the debut celebration with SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey.

Cerwinka was excited by her honorary title of First Rider. After being interviewed by local newspaper, television and radio reporters, she remarked, "I feel like a movie star."

Hedy Cerwinka and her husband Gene Mele.

GM Casey presents Cerwinka with her TrailPass.

Cerwinka proudly displays the TrailPass award.

The new Silverliner V breaks through a 'Welcome' banner at Suburban Station.

Assisting the inaugural riders (from left): Assistant Conductor John Fitzgerald and Conductor Cheryl B. Lewis.