SEPTA Travel – An Overall Guide for Both Visitors and Locals
A SEPTA Regional Rail train, approaching a station in suburban Philadelphia. This is just part of the overall SEPTA system - this page is a basic guide, for visitors, newcomers, and locals who may be unfamiliar with SEPTA.
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SEPTA is the acronym for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
SEPTA Regional Rail - Also Known As "The Train", Unofficially
The SEPTA Regional Rail system is the primary source of coverage to the outlying neighborhoods of the city, as well as the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs. This SEPTA division was formed out of the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads, after they both went bankrupt in the 1960s.
There are three major SEPTA Regional Rail stations in Center City:
Market East Station - at 11th and Market Streets, which is the closest stop to Old City Philadelphia and the historic attractions, as well as nightlife there.
Suburban Station - at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, which is the closest stop to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and its many museums and cultural attractions, as well as Rittenhouse Square, and its fine restaurants.
30th Street Station - at 30th and Market Streets, it also serves Amtrak passengers, as the major Amtrak station in the region.
For out of town visitors, SEPTA Regional Rail is chiefly of interest, due to its frequent service to the neighborhoods of Manayunk and Chestnut Hill, which are several miles from Center City. In fact, we have a
Traveling to Manayunk Guide
- which explains how to do so.
In addition, the SEPTA Regional Rail's famous Main Line connects the affluent western suburbs, with the city, and is of value to the many college students located along those stations, since it provides access to the campuses of Villanova, Rosemont, and Bryn Mawr.
To learn more about how to use SEPTA Regional Rail, take a look at our comprehensive
SEPTA Regional Rail Guide
- which answers the basic questions.
To better understand the SEPTA Regional Rail fares, take a look at our
SEPTA Regional Rail Fares Guide
- which has a complete organization, of the various fare instruments - tickets, passes, etc.) to ride the SEPTA trains. SEPTA substantially revised the fare system, as of July 1, 2010, and here is an explanation of the new rules, which can bewilder even a veteran SEPTA Regional Rail commuter.
SEPTA City Transit Division - Buses, The Blue Line, The Orange Line, The Norristown High Speed Line, and Trolleys
All of the other SEPTA operations fall under the City Transit Division, although some of the service does take place outside of the borders of the city, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
SEPTA Tokens Are Good On All City Transit Division Lines - They Cost $1.55 Each, and Are More Convenient and Safer for Visitors, Than Cash
SEPTA tokens are the best way of paying your fare on City Transit Division Lines. They are good on everything on SEPTA, other than SEPTA Regional Rail trains.
To learn more about where and when to buy SEPTA tokens, and the best ways to use them, consult our
Guide to SEPTA Tokens
- as they are safer, more convenient, and faster than paying the $2.00 base fare on all SEPTA City Transit Division Lines, which also must be paid in exact change.
The SEPTA Blue Line, Also Known Officially As The Market-Frankford Line, And Unofficially As "The El"
The SEPTA Blue Line runs from its western end at 69th Street Terminal, at the intersection of 69th and Market Streets, at the edge of the city's western border with Delaware County, far from visitor country - all the way to Frankford Terminal, its eastbound end, also far from visitor territory.
However, it is primarily of interest due to its stops in Center City Philadelphia, where it runs along Market Street and links many attractions.
To learn more about how to use the Blue Line, take a look at our
SEPTA Blue Line Main Page
- which provides all of the details.
The Broad Street Subway - Also Known Officially As The Broad Street Line, And Unofficially As "The Subway"
The Broad Street Subway runs along Broad Street, Philadelphia's major north-south artery. Its northernmost stop is Fern Rock Transportation Center, its southernmost stop is Pattison Station, renamed AT&T Station in August 2010, in South Philadelphia. It is of interest to visitors, primarily due to its high-speed connection to Pattison Avenue, and the Sports Complex Venues located directly adjacent to it.
The Broad Street Subway also encompasses the Avenue of the Arts, focused on the blocks, primarily south of City Hall, which has its own station, at Broad and Market Streets, the center of downtown Philadelphia.
For complete information on how to use the Orange Line, consult our
Broad Street Subway Guide
- which addresses many of the issues on how to use it. Also, of the major SEPTA entities, the Broad Street Subway is the most dangerous, in terms of potential problems for visitors, and we discuss ways to stay safe, while traveling on it.
But safety generally isn't an issue for Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park. Learn the various ways of taking it there in our
SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park Guide
- as there are many different ways of doing so.
Also, since they are all located in the same Sports Complex in South Philadelphia, directly across the street from each other-
You can use exactly the same information. in the SEPTA To Citizens Bank Park Guide-
in order to take SEPTA to Lincoln Financial Field, as well as taking SEPTA to the Wells Fargo Center - formerly known as the Wachovia Center, and before that, the First Union Center and the CoreStates Center.
Although NOT Of Interest to Out-of-Town Visitors, the Norristown High Speed Line - the Former Route 100 Trolley - Runs Through the Main Line and Western Suburbs, Connecting 69th Street Terminal and the Norristown Transportation Center
The Norristown High Speed Line was the Route 100 Trolley for many years, until SEPTA renamed it in 2010. It is not of interest to out-of-town visitors, as it does not run to tourist attractions. However, if you are a local - especially if you are a college student on one of the Main Line campuses it runs through, such as Villanova, Rosemont, or Bryn Mawr - it can be useful. To learn more about it, take a look at our
Norristown High Speed Line Main Page
- which has all of the details.
NEW - September 17, 2010 - Guide to Taking SEPTA From Villanova University, Which Is Also Useful for Students at Other Main Line Schools Such As Rosemont, Cabrini, and Bryn Mawr
We've created a new, comprehensive
Villanova SEPTA Guide for Students
- which thoroughly answers any questions Villanova University students may have, about the many options SEPTA offers to their Main Line campus.
Although it's written specifically for Villanova students, students at other Main Line schools (Rosemont, Bryn Mawr, Cabrini) would likely find it helpful as well - as would anyone seeking to visit the city, from those western suburbs of the Main Line.
SEPTA Buses Are Slower Than High Speed Lines, But Can Be Of Value, Especially In Center City Philadelphia
SEPTA Bus service is slow, and lumbering. However, it can be less confusing for visitors and those unfamiliar with SEPTA, if, for no other reason, that it doesn't require descent into an unfamiliar concourse or train platform, below street level. In contrast, you see the bus on the street, with its route number conspicuously visible, above the windshield.
For the most part, SEPTA buses are more for local Philadelphians, than for out-of-towners. However, within Center City itself, buses going east to west on Market Street, as well as up and down the numbered streets, can be of value, even for visitors for out of town. This is especially true for travel to bohemian, cool South Street, the southernmost street in Center City, where numbered-street buses can save you some time.
There will be signs on each street corner, indicating the numbered bus routes that will stop there. It's worth investigating further.
As noted above, click on the individual line guides, for more information on them, as well as the fare guides.
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