Get On Board! Why It’s Worth Traveling with SEPTA

Public Transit

Now that it’s getting colder (finally), walking and biking to work or for your daily errands becomes less of an option as the temperature drops.  One of the benefits of living in Philadelphia, or any major city, is the option of public transportation.  SEPTA has the 5th largest overall transit system with regional rail, subways/elevated trains, trolley/light rail and numerous bus routes.  No matter where you live in the city you can get almost anywhere and usually in less time and for less money than driving.

Below are just three of the many options available to commuters:

Subway & El


copyright Sean Marshall-flickr

The subway and El intersect at 15th and Market in Center City.  Traveling North to South and back, the Subway, or Broad Street line/Orange Line, begins at Fern Rock and travels south to the Stadiums.  The El, or Market Frankford Line/Blue Line, runs East to West and back from Frankford Transportation Center to 69th Street.   Each make frequent but quick stops and intersect at 15th street where you can transfer for free.  This is a popular option for commuters who live and work in the city.  Those who live in the city and take the regional rail to work also utilize these routes to get to the train stations as they are easily accessible through the underground concourse once exiting the line.


Septa Bus

copyright Rashaad Jorden-flickr

With 121 bus routes available, taking the bus can seem daunting for someone who has never tried before.  While you are vulnerable to the traffic of the city streets, there is more flexibility with where to board and exit as almost every block has a bus stop.   If you don’t live in walking distance to the subway or el, the bus is a great way to get to the high speed lines or regional rail without having to worry about parking.  The other non-driving perks of the bus is never having to worry about cleaning your car of snow or ice or spending a fortune on gas.

Regional Rail

Septa RR

copyright Sean Marshall-flickr

If you live in the city and work in the suburbs or vice versa, the regional rail is the best option for your daily commute.  There are 13 commuter routes that start in Central Philadelphia and travel outwards.  Running at least once an hour with the option of express routes during rush hour, the regional rail will save you hours in traffic and hundreds on gas and parking.


Cash – The standard fare for all forms of public transportation excluding regional rail is $2.25.  Cash is accepted however passengers must have exact change as drivers do not carry money.  Cash payments are permitted on the train but can be more expensive than purchasing a ticket before boarding at the station.

Tokens – Tokens are sold at most stations and have a value of $2.25.  Philadelphia is the last major city in the country still using tokens and has been in the works to transition to more efficient means.  However, it has yet to be determined when tokens will be fully phased out.  For those who take public transportation daily, trail & trans passes are recommended.

TrailPass – The TrailPass is recommended for commuters taking the regional rail daily and can be purchased for weekly or monthly use.  By purchasing a TrailPass, commuters can travel on ALL forms of public transportation with unlimited rides for one flat fee.  The cost is determined on the zone in which you travel to on the train.  The further you travel by train, the higher the cost.  For the furthest zone, the monthly cost of a TrailPass is $191.

TransPass – The TransPass follows the same guidelines of unlimited use on all forms of transportation but excludes the regional rail.  This pass is recommended for those who take multiple or frequent trips on transportation like the subway, el, trolley, etc.  Also available for purchase weekly or monthly, the TransPass is $24 a week or $91 a month as zones do not apply.  One of the major perks of the TransPass is the option to take the regional rail for free on weekends and major holidays.  The TransPass is most frequently purchased by commuters who live and work in the city and do not take Regional Rail on a regular basis.

The routes described above are just a fraction of the many options SEPTA offers commuters.  While it may seem complex and overwhelming, public transportation is the most efficient way to travel in a major city like Philadelphia, not to mention a great way to learn this growing metropolis.  For those who bike or walk to work, public transportation offers a warm, comfortable trip (that can accommodate your bike!) on cold mornings or during a sudden thunderstorm.   Out late?  Traveling safely after a night out on the town doesn’t have to involve a costly cab – most routes offer late night or 24 hour service.  Check out for more information on how to plan your route and let you know of any delays or detours.

Rail Map