MARAC in Philadelphia: SEPTA for Beginners

by Rebecca Goldman, Local Arrangements Committee

SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, oversees most public transit in Philadelphia (NJTransit and PATCO provide additional service between Philly and New Jersey). We locals like to complain about SEPTA, but most of the time it can get you where you want to go. Still, there are a couple of things I like to warn new SEPTA travelers about in advance.

We still use tokens. I think we’re the only big city that still does. Unless you’re planning on making a lot of trips in one day, or staying more than 4 days, don’t buy a pass–single tokens are your best bet. Tokens cost $1.80. Cash fare on subways, buses, and trolleys is $2.25. Exact change only!

Septa Token
SEPTA Token by lindseywb

In most stations, tokens and other fare instruments are cash only. Some stations have machines where you can buy tokens, but these are also cash only. You can buy tokens at the subway stop at 2nd and Market, at 30th St/Amtrak Station, or at any of these Center City sales locations http://www.septa.org/sales/locations/ccp.html (ZIP code 19106 is closest to the hotel).

Within Center City, subways and buses are your best bet.

Subway/El: The Market-Frankford Line (Blue Line) runs east-west through Center City and West Philadelphia along Market St. The 2nd St Station on the Blue Line is closest to the conference. Trains run every 6 minutes until 6 PM, every 8 minutes until 8 PM, and every 10-15 minutes until midnight. After midnight, the subway stations close, but a Nite Owl bus bus follows the same route, arriving every 15 minutes. Yes, transit runs all night! The Blue line connects to the north-south Broad St Line (Orange Line) at 15th and Market.

Broad Street Line Subway
Broad Street Line Subway by rorowe8 

Buses: Walk to the northeast corner of 2nd St and Walnut St (5 minutes from the hotel) to catch the 9, 12, 21, or 42 bus, all of which travel westbound on Walnut through Center City, diverging around 22nd St. To return to the hotel, catch the 9, 21 or 42 on Chestnut St or the 12 on Locust St.

SEPTA bus
SEPTA NEW FLYER 5600 by bradlee9119

If you want to plan a trip on SEPTA, the easiest way is to choose the Public Transit option on Google Maps.

Wondering about transit to a particular destination in Philadelphia? Leave a comment with the address and we’ll try to help you out.

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