Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pedestrian Living in Philadephia - the SEPTA Way!

Two months ago I moved back to Philadelphia after five years on the road. In that time, I hopped from Miami to Boston to desert cities in New Mexico and Southern California, living a semi-nomadic, car-dependent lifestyle. Now that I'm back, I've traded my vehicle for a SEPTA TransPass, and I'm loving my new pedestrian life here in this vibrant little corner of Megalopolis.

SEPTA (a.k.a. the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) refers to the greater Philadelphia public transportation system. The SEPTA service network includes buses, trolleys, subways, an elevated train, light rail and an extensive regional commuter rail network. You can get almost anywhere you want or need to go within the city and well into the suburbs - even to Trenton, NJ (where you can catch a New Jersey Transit train to New York City) and Wilmington, DE. (Check out the SEPTA transit map here.) Add a bike to the mix, and the possibilities are endless!

Bikes add unlimited flexibility to SEPTA's already amazing route network
One thing I love about SEPTA and living in the Philadelphia area is that you can get almost anywhere you need to go via public transportation. Add a bike into the mix, and the possibilities are endless. I'm not just talking about commuting between work and home. SEPTA is great for getting to and from all your favorite weekend activities, too.

If you're into shopping, SEPTA can get to all the major malls and high streets throughout the area. And if you like to be more active on the weekend, you can get to every park in the amazing Fairmount Park system via public transit. Love hiking or mountain biking? Check out Wissahickon Valley Park. No matter where you live in the city or suburbs you can get there by train or bus. You can even do a through hike on one of the three rugged single-track trails there - the Orange Trail, the White Trail and the Yellow Trail - by taking one SEPTA route to either Manyunk or Chestnut Hill and catching another route home.

There are some downsides to SEPTA, though, mostly customer service. Drivers on all routes are useless for anything but staying on the road. Don't try to ask them anything, like when the last bus runs or where to get off. They know, but they just don't want to be bothered. And don't expect anything from booth agents, either. They have no maps. They cannot give change. And they act like they have no idea where you can find maps or change - so don't bother asking.

SEPTA maps at North Philly's Fairmount Station, Broad Street Line subway
This isn't to say that the terms "good customer service" and "SEPTA" are mutually exclusive. If you want to get information, get maps or need to buy a TransPass with anything but exact change, I recommend you go to Suburban Station downtown or to the SEPTA store in the underground concourse near where the Market Frankford Line and Broad Street Line subways converge. These people are friendly and knowledgeable. Also, Check out @SEPTA_Social on Twitter. Ask anything anytime, and these folks are there to help you. They really know their stuff!

Well, it's Saturday, so I better get outside and make the most of living the pedestrian life on this beautiful Philadelphia day! I'll be taking the Broad Street Line north to Olney Transportation Center to catch the L bus over to Chestnut Hill (it's cheaper that way than taking Regional Rail). Then I'll be thru-hiking the Wissahickon this afternoon, catching the 27 bus from Wissahickon Transfer Center to head back to Center City afterward. It's all part of living MyFitLife2Day!

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