With Pope's visit: 'Be prepared to walk'
With the expectation of almost two million people in town for the Papal visit, Philly commuters should brace themselves and plan accordingly.
On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Nutter and agency officials announced preliminary information about public transportation options during the World Meeting of Families (Sept. 22-25), and the weekend of the Papal Visit (September 26-27).
Regular riders who rely on SEPTA for daily commuting will likely be severely impacted by the adjustments made to accommodate event attendees. City officials said residents and visitors should be prepared to walk to the destination after debarking transit — up to a couple of miles. For regional transportation adjustments click here.
“At this point, we are about three months away from hosting the largest event in this city’s history,” Nutter said. “Be prepared to walk a few miles or more. Private vehicles will not be a viable option.”
SEPTA’s General Manager Joe Casey says they’re getting ready to handle extraordinary levels of crowds. “During the Papal Visit only 31 of our system-wide 280 rail stations will be open for service," Casey said. "This will allow us to speed up service, recycle the trains to increase our system capacity.”
He added that special regional rail passes costing $10 per day will be sold in limited quantities beginning July 15. Each pass will only be valid for specific stations. “Special one day passes will be required for both Saturday and Sunday,” Casey said.
Organizers advised residents to continue to check WorldMeeting2015.org for transportation updates and to sign up to receive the Papal Visit Playbook, a guide for residents and visitors to navigate Center City neighborhoods during the event, scheduled to be availiable later in the summer.
During the World Meeting of Families, from September 22 to 25, SEPTA will operate all services on normal weekday schedules. During the Papal Visit on Saturday, September. 26 and Sunday, September 27, service will be truncated drastically throughout the rail network to accommodate the events and maximize operational efficiency. SEPTA will reduce the number of stations that will be used from the usual 282 to 31 on its Regional Rail, Market-Frankford Line subway/elevated, Broad Street Line subway, trolley lines and Norristown High Speed Line. Event drop-off locations in Center City will be announced at a later date.
A special $10, three-day SEPTA transit pass, valid from Saturday, September 26 through Monday, September 28, will be sold for travel on subways, buses and trolleys. Standard SEPTA passes and tokens can also be used on these transit modes. For Regional Rail, a one-day special event pass valid for Saturday, and another valid for Sunday, will be sold for $10 each in advance. Only those riders with the pre-purchased special event passes will be permitted to ride Regional Rail. Quantities for sale will be limited to the number of riders SEPTA can carry on the vehicles in operation. Passes for the papal visit will go on sale July 15, only on SEPTA's website (www.septa.org). No passes will be sold on the day of the event
Market-Frankford Line: Similar to Regional Rail, pick-up only service will be available westbound from Frankford Transportation Center and the Girard Avenue Station; eastbound pick-up only service will operate from 69th Street Transportation Center and 52nd Street Station, with drop-offs at yet-to-be-determined Center City stations. After the event, service will express back to the outlying stations. Riders will not be able to board or exit the Market-Frankford Line from any other stations.
Broad Street Line: Pick-up service will operate northbound from AT&T Station only; southbound pick-up service will be available at Fern Rock Transportation Center and the Cecil B. Moore Station, with drop-offs at yet-to-be-determined Center City stations. Riders will not be able to board or exit the Broad Street Line from any of the other stations.
Trolley: Operating normal service: Route 15 Service from 63rd & Girard; Route 11 and 13 service from Darby Transportation Center; Route 34 Trolley service from 61st & Baltimore; Route 36 Service from 60th & Eastwick. There will also be service from a limited number of stations on the Norristown High Speed Line and Route 101 Media and Route 102 Sharon Hill Trolley Lines.
Bus: At least 26 buses in the Center City and surrounding areas will be on detours due to street closures. Select bus routes will operate on weekday schedules throughout the weekend to accommodate ridership increases. SEPTA will provide complete service information and updates on its website, www.septa.org.
Regional Rail: SEPTA will maximize service capabilities by shrinking the railroad. The number of stations served will be significantly reduced and trains will operate express-type, pick-up only service to the event from 18 select outlying stations. Similarly, post-event service will express from Center City Philadelphia to the selected outlying stations.
At this time, SEPTA plans to operate pick-up only service at these specific stations:
Paoli/Thorndale Line – Paoli and Radnor Stations
Norristown/Manayunk Line – Norristown Transportation Center
Chestnut Hill West Line – Chestnut Hill West Station
Lansdale/Doylestown Line – Lansdale and Fort Washington Stations
Warminster Line – Warminster Station
West Trenton Line – Woodbourne Station
Fox Chase Line – Fox Chase Station
Trenton Line – Croydon and Cornwells Heights Stations
Media/Elywn Line – Media and Primos Stations
Wilmington/Newark Line – Wilmington and Marcus Hook Stations
Airport Line – Terminals C & D, Terminal B and Eastwick Station