SEPTA, your fav Philly transpo system, is sometimes difficult to endure, especially when certain Center City stations carry the unmistakable smell of pee. But it’s also handy — and eminently hackable.
Here are 10 of our favorite tips:
1. The Regional Rail is kinda free in Center City
Our good friends over at City Paper divulged this free SEPTA hack, and while I also hesitate to pass this along, it is my duty. According to James Saksa at City Paper, the SEPTA regional rail conductors don’t check for tickets until the trains leave Center City. That means you can enjoy a free ride for a few stops if you get on anywhere between University City and Temple.
2. Stop paying for the Regional Rail and subway tokens in the same day
Take advantage of the One Day Independence Pass that almost no one knows about. A YouTube user here walks you through how to use the pass so that you can have completely unlimited SEPTA rides for a day so you don’t have to pay for both the Regional Rail and tokens for the subway or trolleys. Here’s more information from SEPTA on the $12 pass.
3. Thank you, Amtrak
Traveling just got a bit easier. Astute Philadelphian Dan McQuade points out that SEPTA is free between Market/ Suburban and 30th Street if you have an Amtrak ticket for the same day.
4. Whatever you do, absolutely do not lose your TransPass
If you buy a monthly SEPTA pass, contrary to popular belief, you can’t get the pass canceled or replaced even if you have that six-digit number saved. If you lose that sucker, you’re pretty much SOL. SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said they have no way of knowing that a person copied their six-digit number correctly, and therefore can’t cancel passes for fear of canceling the wrong one.
However, once SEPTA launches its new SEPTA Key technology, Williams said TransPass users will be able to register their passes so that if they’re lost, stolen or otherwise misplaced, you’ll be able to cancel the pass and roll over whatever funds you had left onto a new pass.
5. Talk to the Regional Rail conductors
A SEPTA conductor told Reddit users that Regional Rail riders ought to be up front about their final destination with the conductor who collects your fare.
“We will usually give you the cheapest/easiest way to get there,” he wrote. “Don’t say 30th street then tell me after I give you your ticket how to get the Trenton train.”
6. Some brilliant person made a website for that
The blessed soul who created Skookul Philadelphia put together an awesome tool for finding out where SEPTA’s buses, trains and trolleys are — in real time. It’ll also note whether or not the transportation form of your choosing is running late, is on time, or is ahead of schedule, and it’ll tell you the last time it’s been updated.
7. For the love of God, stay off the El in the afternoons on school days
At all costs, avoid the Market-Frankford “El” during the school year, from 3 to 4 p.m. One Fine Philly points out that not only is the train crowded at the time, but fights are more likely to start in the mid-afternoon hours “because of the combination of freedom (out of school) and independence and hormones.” Noted.
8. Early birds catch the worm to park near Regional Rail stations
Most Regional Rail stations have parking lots that offer cheap parking, as in, $1-a-day cheap. But they’re obviously super popular — get there before 7 a.m. in order to claim your space. If not, you’re stuck in a muni lot where prices vary. Sigh.
9. There’s a Platform nine and three-quarters in Philly
So this may not qualify as a hack, but it’s cool. There’s a scary awesome hidden portal to get to Macy’s from the SEPTA station at Walnut/ Locust – 13th/ Market. According to Philebrity, the hallway has “some real Harry Potter steez.”
“I never knew there was an option to get to Macy’s without going up the 13th & Market pee stairs much less one that involved revolving doors, marble (fake, probably) hallways, a large bronze eagle statue and an escalator directly into the building,” a reader told them.
10. The graffiti you can see from the Broad-Ridge Spur is ridiculous
Even though the Spring Garden SEPTA station was closed 25 years ago for low ridership, graffiti artists have overtaken the area that you can see from the Broad-Ridge Spur. Streets Dept. has photos, but the best way to see this stuff is to check it out in person.