Using SEPTA to Get Around Philadelphia

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Wouldn’t it be awesome if every city had a great public transportation system? Well, unfortunately this isn’t the case and when you live in Arkansas the idea of ‘public transportation’ is foreign to most folks. Our recent trip to Philadelphia saw us do things a little different than usual. When we go somewhere either for a weekend trip or longer, we will either stay downtown or use public transportation or if we stay outside of the center we rent a car to get around. However, this time we opted to do a combination of the two by staying at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel near Philadelphia Airport but opted against renting a car. This forced us into using Philadelphia’s SEPTA public transportation system and this was overall a pleasant, convenient experience.

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Ticket Options

The first item of note if you are flying into Philly is that you can pretty much get wherever you need to directly from the airport using the SEPTA system. You don’t pre-pay for your ticket; instead you pay the conductor onboard. If you are only traveling one way and don’t plan on using the system any more on the same day, a one way ticket will cost $8. However, for those of you like us and wanted a little more flexibility, we purchased the ‘One Day Independence Pass’ for $12, which provides access to all SEPTA networks (trains, buses, trams etc.). This is really a great deal even if you only use it a couple of times and given that we had to go to and from the airport twice each day, it was a more cost efficient option for us.

You need to have cash though in order to pay for your tickets onboard because that is the only payment option available!

SEPTA Network

As I mentioned, you can pretty much get wherever you need to in Philadelphia especially if your primary purpose is to see the key landmarks. You have a couple of options when you ride the Airport line (Blue line) into downtown Philadelphia. After passing Eastwick, University City and 30th Street, the next two stations are both feasible to get off and be in a good spot to start exploring.

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Suburban Station is within walking distance to both City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also known as being famous for the ‘Rocky Steps’ and ‘Rocky Statue’. If you prefer to not walk, buses are frequently passing by and your Independence Pass will allow you to get onboard and take you closer to your chosen destination.

Market Street East Station is next on the Airport line and gives the perfect landing spot to explore Independence Mall (Independence Hall and Liberty Bell) and the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

If you decide to take in a game to watch the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers or 76ers, you can take the Broad Street line (Orange line) and this will take you outside all three stadiums.

Be Safe Using Public Transportation

I think it’s worth noting as a word of caution as with any public transportation system that you should be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are traveling alone at night. Be confident, be aware and trust your gut instinct if you feel uncomfortable in a situation when using public transportation.

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At no point during our experience on the SEPTA system did we feel uncomfortable but it’s also worth nothing that we were together and also primarily used the main stations in downtown Philly.

I have used many public transportation networks and although I wouldn’t say Philadelphia’s SEPTA system is as good as New York City’s underground or London’s tube system, it is efficient and provides a great service to locals and visitors to the area.

What are your favorite public transport networks around the world and why?

What are your tips to be safe when using public transportation?

9 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Britain, so our idea of public transport is to get out a second mortgage to pay for a dilapidated, not fit for purpose, useless system that is always late IF we are lucky to have it running at all and never goes where we need it to at the time we need it too!

    ANY system is heaven in comparison! Haha!

    Great guide though, I sometimes wish there were more like this for different countries/places, it would save me that initial trying to learn my way around the public transport day when I arrive!

    • There you have the positive Brit speaking! Cheers Mike, us Brits are always renowned for being the voice of reason and speaking our minds about the doom and gloom of our British lifestyle 🙂 But you are right in a sense because the government would do well to put a little more money into improving the efficiency of the public transportation system. Then again, at least we have one that for the most part (I know we have issues!!) works effectively and meets the needs of British citizens and tourists.

      When you compare the British system to others around the world, I think we generally do a pretty good job – sure, there is room for improvement but hopefully that will come with time and maybe a new government (wishful thinking huh).

      I really appreciate your insight and positive comments about the guide though. I agree that these sorts of guides can prove to be really beneficial to travelers heading there for the first time because they can be difficult to navigate unless you know what you are doing.

    • Thanks Erin and yes, I agree with you about the NYC subway system that for the most part it is too a very efficient service. I have been there several times and each time had a successful experience, plus also with the bus service from downtown Manhattan to La Guardia Airport which was convenient and efficient!

      You are right though, the beauty of public transportation is the entertainment value it can present because you can really find some characters on the subways, trains and buses.

  2. Aw, now this makes me nostalgic about the 5 years i lived in Philly! Septa is great! The city is well connected and it’s easy to get around on the trains, buses and subway system. Philly also happens to be one of the most walkable cities in the country! 🙂

    • So true Karisa! Aside from us taking the SEPTA from the airport into downtown Philly (we stopped once at Suburban and once at Market St. East), we walked everywhere from the Rocky Steps all the way to the Liberty Bell. It’s really easy to navigate even in winter when its 20 degrees outside – just adds to the experience 🙂

  3. This is great information! I’m in DC right now and a friend of mine lives in a Philly suburb. I’m hoping to meet her in the city for a weekend and it’s nice to know it will be easy to get around!

    • Heather, you will have a great time in Philly and the SEPTA system is great! Of course there are negatives just like with all public transportation systems and most folks are quick to point those out but I think it’s nice to give some positive feedback when it’s due and our experience was nothing but good.

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