The extensive public transportation network includes buses, subways, trolleys, and regional rail lines, all operated by SEPTA. While locals are quick to complain about increasing fares and delays, and the public transit system certainly has its flaws compared with other major cities, it will generally get you to most places you need to go in the city without any major trauma. However, it can be confusing, as some trips in Philly may require a combination of bus, subway, and/or regional rail lines. The farther away from Center City you travel, the fewer direct routes you’ll find, but within the central areas it is generally quick and easy to get around. In general, all you need is a little patience and willingness to figure out the system, or ask someone for help. The SEPTA website lets you enter departure and arrival information with the “Plan My Trip” feature and will give you the best way to get from A to B—a good idea if you have Internet access and time to plan. Some SEPTA “Night Owl” routes run all night, but with a limited schedule after 8 p.m. Many lines, including the regional rail, stop running at midnight.
Buses, trolleys, subways, and subway surface cars cover the city, especially in Center City. Regional rail lines run within the city to the far northeast and northwest sections including Germantown, Manayunk, and Chestnut Hill, and to many suburbs. The eight rail lines (R1-Airport through R8-Chestnut Hill West/Fox Chase) can all be accessed through Center City stations at Market East, Suburban, and 30th Street Station s. These routes connect with many of the subway and bus lines, but fares must be paid separately and cost is dependent on distance or number of “zones” traveled. Fares increase during peak hours, weekdays 6–9:30 a.m. on trains heading towards Center City and 4–6:30 p.m. on all trains leaving from Center City.
Buses, trolleys, and subways cost $2 per ride and an additional $0.75 for a transfer, which is good for an additional ride on a different line continuing in the same direction. Up to two transfers can be purchased for any one trip, and are not required when transferring from one subway line to another, but are required between buses or when switching between modes of transport (like from bus to subway). If you’ll be using a lot of public transportation, consider the One Day Convenience Pass, which will get you eight trips on any buses or subways in one day for $6. Buying tokens also saves money ($1.45 each, 2 for $2.90, 5 for $7, and 10 for $14.50). They can be purchased in any major subway station, including Suburban, 30th Street, and Market East, and at over 400 retail locations in the city, including some newspaper stands. A weekly TransPass gets you unlimited rides on all modes of public transit in a calendar week for $20.75; a pass for unlimited rides in a calendar month is $78. Trips on some regional rail lines require a surcharge if used with a pass. Discounts are available for seniors, riders with disabilities, children, K–12 students, some college students, families, and groups.
Every SEPTA bus line is equipped with some vehicles with a wheelchair lift or ramp that can be lowered by the driver. The majority of vehicles include automated route and stop announcements that can be heard inside and outside of the bus. Route information is also displayed electronically on the front and side of buses.
Regional rail cars are accessible to those with mobility devices and many stations are ADA accessible, with additional facilities currently under construction to become accessible. Many of the major regional rail stations, including Temple University, Market East, Suburban, 30th Street, and University City, are ADA accessible. Primary subway and trolley stations including Frankford Transportation Center, 69th Street Station, Fern Rock, and Olney are accessible and provide easy connections to many bus routes. A toll-free 24-hour elevator-status number (877/737-8248) is updated when changes in elevator service occur and an Alternate Accessible Service list on the SEPTA website provides alternative options.
Customized Community Transportation (CCT Connect) provides ADA paratransit services to individuals with disabilities who are unable to use regular services, along with a Shared-Ride paratransit program for senior citizens (215/580-7145).