SEPTA To Terror Behind the Walls At Eastern State Penitentiary

Taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls is somewhat complicated, especially since Terror Behind the Walls, is, by definition, always staged at night.

Fairmount – the Philadelphia neighborhood where Eastern State Penitentiary is located – can be accessed by SEPTA without too much trouble- although unfortunately, not as conveniently or easily as it would be, if it were located in Center City.

But the experience of taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls, doesn’t need to be even more terrifying, than your experience within Terror Behind the Walls! Just follow the tips and advice that you'll read here, and you should be fine… Leave the horror-inducing antics to the professionals at Terror Behind the Walls.

Taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls – The Phlash Trolley

The purple Phlash Trolley offers service to the Philadelphia Museum of Art - and although it doesn’t go directly to ESP, you can walk to it easily.

When you are taking a Phlash from Center City, heading northwest, up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Watch for Stop #12, which is located at the Rodin Museum - at the intersection of 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on the right side. That is not the stop you get off at – but the next one is, so start to pay attention.

When you reach the next stop - Stop #13 – which, when you come to think of it, is a fitting number for the Phlash stop for haunted ESP and Terror Behind the Walls – it is time to disembark. You will be getting off at the Perelman Building, at the corner of Fairmount and Pennsylvania Avenues. You’ll be getting off at the exact corner, where the Perelman Building is – you can’t miss it, it’s a very large white building.

You’ll see the Philadelphia Museum of Art, across the street – but walk in the opposite direction. You want to walk east along Fairmount Avenue to ESP. ESP is located on Fairmount, between 20th and 22nd Streets. It’s about a 3 ½ block walk from the Phlash stop.

However, you don’t need to be concerned with taking the Phlash back to Center City, after Terror Behind the Walls. The reason being that the Phlash stops running at some point, between 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM – depending on the stop and other circumstances – and since Terror Behind the Walls doesn’t start shows until 7:00 PM each night, the Phlash will have retired for the evening, long before you’ll be done with your demented tour.

The Phlash costs $2 per person, per ride. If you’re going to be visiting other Philadelphia tourist attractions during the day (and if you aren’t planning to, you should be!) – you can buy an all-day pass, and ride the Phlash for $5 all day. Families can purchase a $10 pass for two adults and two children. - at Broad and Market Streets. From there, you can connect with various SEPTA bus routes, going up the numbered streets, to Eastern State Penitentiary. You’ll need to buy a $1.00 transfer at the subway, to ride the bus, or else spend $2.00, or another token, to get on the northbound bus.

You can also easily connect with the Phlash, which has a stop at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard – near Suburban Station. It’s a couple of blocks over, but then you just follow the Phlash directions above...

View Terror Behind the Walls Map - How To Travel to Eastern State Penitentiary For the Haunted House in a larger map

Here's the basic geography - the purple teardrop is Phlash Stop #13, at Pennsylvania and Fairmount Avenues. The Philadelphia Zoo, where you can park and ride the Ghost Bus, is in the top left corner with a red teardrop, a "P" for parking, and a "Bus" icon. Eastern State Penitentiary has a red teardrop, and the "P" icon indicates the landscaped, fenced, and secured parking lot, directly next to it. 30th Street Station and Suburban Station both have "Train" and "Taxicab" icons; 30th Street is the one on the bottom left, Suburban Station is the one on the bottom right.

Taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls – The SEPTA Blue Line - Also Known Officially As the Market-Frankford Line, And Unofficially As "The El"

You can take the SEPTA Blue Line to its 15th Street Station, located at 15th and Market Streets. From there, you can connect to various SEPTA Bus Routes, running up the numbered streets, which we’ll describe in detail, below. You will need to buy a $1.00 transfer at the Blue Line, which can serve as your bus ticket; otherwise you have to spend another token on the bus.

In addition, if it's sufficiently early, and the purple Phlash trolley is still operating - you can also take the Phlash, which has a stop nearby 15th Street Station – it’s at Suburban Station, at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Once you’re on the Phlash, just follow the Phlash directions above.

Taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls - Via SEPTA Regional Rail, To Either Amtrak 30th Street Station, or Suburban Station

If you are taking SEPTA Regional Rail to Terror Behind the Walls, you have two basic options:

Option A – Take Your Regional Rail Train to Amtrak 30th Street Station, Or Suburban Station - and Then Taking A Cab (or Cabs) From Either Station, directly to ESP

If you have the cash, and/or you’re traveling in a large group, this may be a good option for you.

The distance by cab, from 30th Street Station to Eastern State Penitentiary, is only 1.3 miles - and it's about the same, from Suburban Station to Eastern State Penitentiary. That won’t be a bad cab fare. And the more of you in your party, the better a deal it becomes. Compared to all of the tokens you’ll need to get the buses up to Eastern State Penitentiary, it might even be cheaper to take the cab.

It’s also far, far, far more convenient. You can literally walk out the door at 30th Street Station, and be in a cab, and the ride over to Eastern State Penitentiary will be about 5 minutes (assuming no traffic – be prepared for 10-15 minutes, depending on the time of day).

Should we get off the train at 30th Street Station, or Suburban Station, to take the cab?

Either one is fine, as they're about equidistant from Eastern State Penitentiary. You can literally get a cab by just walking out the door at 30th Street Station, but you shouldn't have much trouble hailing one out front of Suburban Station, either. We think traffic-wise, it would be faster from 30th Street Station, but it really shouldn't matter.

We should note that if you decide at the last minute that you don't want to take the cab, you should get off at Suburban Station. The reason being - while you have many SEPTA bus choices, from Suburban Station - in contrast, you can't take a bus to Eastern State Penitentiary, from 30th Street Station! (You can't cross the Schuylkill River via bus...)

In contrast, if you take Option B – explained in detail below – you will have to waste time:

-buying tokens at the Suburban Station ticket window;-walking from Suburban Station to the bus stop;–figuring out which bus you want;– finding out where it stops;- waiting for the bus to arrive; and then lumbering up the numbered streets, until you get to Fairmount Avenue.

In contrast, the cab takes you right to the door, and you’re there. No problem!

Option B – Taking SEPTA Regional Rail to Suburban Station, and Then SEPTA Bus Service to ESP

Once you’re at Suburban Station –if it’s still early enough, you may be able to catch the Phlash at its stop outside. But otherwise, you have to take the bus, or a cab.

Taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls – We Don't Recommend Taking SEPTA Bus Service From Suburban Station, And We Absolutely Don't Recommend Taking It Back To Suburban Station, After Terror Behind the Walls - It's Too Late At Night

The Suburban Station to bus combination is the worst choice for taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls, in particular.

In fairness, this is a reasonable choice during the day, when bus service is relatively frequent, and there's lots of daylight. If you were going for the daytime tour, this would be feasible.

However, that having been said, we don't recommend bus service, at all, for Terror Behind the Walls. At night, the bus service is even more sporadic, and it's not a great neighborhood to be traveling through after dark.

And the bus ride is very slow, due to the high number of lights.

In summary - it's a lot safer, easier, cheaper, and faster, to jump in a cab from either 30th Street Station or Suburban Station.

But, if you still want to do it -

Regardless of which bus(es) you opt to take, we would strongly recommend that you pick up copies of their schedules, while you are still at Suburban Station. The frequency of service fluctuates wildly, depending on the time of day, and whether it is a weekend or weekday.

While we recommend picking up SEPTA schedules whenever possible, anyhow - this is particularly important, when taking SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls. This is because Terror Behind the Walls is always staged at night, and many being weekend nights, also. In addition, the map in the schedule will reduce the likelihood of your getting lost, and it's vital that you not get yourself lost in Fairmount, after dark.

Just ask a SEPTA employee, once you're off the train at Suburban Station, where you can pick up the bus schedules. They should be able to help you.

Also, make sure that you have two SEPTA tokens with you - you can buy them at the Suburban Station Regional Rail ticket window, in packs of 2, 5, or 10. You need two tokens per person, one for the way up, and (although you should be taking a cab) one for the way back. Using SEPTA tokens, rather than cash, will improve your safety and speed while taking the bus. If you have questions about SEPTA tokens and how to use them, check out our complete Guide to SEPTA Tokens - which should have all the information that you'll need about them.

So, after the above disclaimer on taking the bus to Eastern State Penitentiary at night, here are your choices, should you wish to try it.

The 33 Bus

You can connect with SEPTA bus Route 33, just outside Suburban Station.

After lumbering through Center City, the Route 33 bus will eventually head northbound, up 20th Street, which is one-way. You want to get off the 33 bus, at 20th and Fairmount Avenue, where you'll see Eastern State Penitentiary.

Important tip for heading back - the 33 runs southbound down 19th Street, which is also one-way. So after you're done at Terror Behind the Walls, you have to walk an additional block, back to the intersection of 19th Street and Fairmount Avenue, in order to board the 33 bus, and ride back to Center City.

The 32 Bus

You can board the Route 32 bus at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, an easy connection with Suburban Station, a block away. The 32 will take you to 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, one block west of Eastern State Penitentiary, where you just need to walk one block over to the fortress. (We can't tell you which street it takes to go back, as SEPTA's PDF file on the 32 is broken, but that's how you get there).

The 48 Bus

The 48 Bus travels from 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, one block from Suburban Station. It will take you up 22nd Street, which runs one-way, northbound, and you should get off at the intersection of 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue. Eastern State Penitentiary will be one block east, on Fairmount Avenue - so when you get off the bus, just walk over toward the gigantic castle.

Going back to Center City - in order to travel from Eastern State Penitentiary, you have to board at 23rd and Fairmount, not 22nd or 21st, to ride back.

The 7 Bus

The Route 7 Bus does not connect with Suburban Station, as it runs northbound through Center City, all the way up 22nd Street from South Philadelphia, without snaking through Center City, east and west, the way the 33 and 48 buses do. But if you happen to be near Rittenhouse Square, or far west of Broad Street, the 7 may be more convenient.

As with the 48 bus, the 7 bus will drop you off at 22nd and Fairmount, and you walk one block over, to Eastern State Penitentiary. But unlike the 48, the 7 bus also runs back to Center City via 21st Street, one-way, southbound, so you have to board at 21st and Fairmount.

If you'd like to leave the SEPTA to Terror Behind the Walls Guide and (if you dare!) return to the Terror Behind the Walls Main Page, please click here.

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