Anthony scanned the crowd every day, looking for Jackie, the beautiful woman who rode the same train he took to work. Cheryl looked up from her book and had a conversation with George, the man who said hello as they were waiting for the trolley.
While these sound like plots right out of Hollywood, the settings for these and many more real-life love stories were Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) vehicles, stations and platforms. For the third consecutive year, SEPTA cut the February chill by celebrating red-hot romance on the rails with its “SEPTA Love Stories” contest.
Finding the love of one’s life on public transportation happens all the time — at least it does in SEPTA’s five-county Greater Philadelphia service region. Over the past three years, hundreds of SEPTA Sweethearts have submitted their “moving” tales of “bliss on the bus” and “love on the line,” inspiring thousands to vote for their favorite mass transit Romeos and Juliettes. The 14 couples receiving the most votes win prizes, including an invitation to ride on the "Love Train" — a specially decorated Market-Frankford Line (“the El”) six-car train that takes passengers on a romantic ride with a perfect view of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's "Love Letter Project.” The trip to view the 50 rooftop murals in West Philadelphia along the Market-Frankford Line is followed by a VIP reception at SEPTA's downtown Philadelphia headquarters.
When you think about it, public transit is a perfect place to find a significant other. SEPTA serves one million riders a day, many of whom are eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, sharing stop after stop along the route (high-speed line dating, anyone?). Commuters heading to work see the same familiar faces day after day, many forming “train families” or finding “bus buddies.” They share details of their jobs, weekend plans and hobbies while traveling to and from the office. And then there are the wildcards — those who lock eyes with a stranger on the subway and take a chance at striking up a conversation. Sometimes a simple hello can lead to happily ever after.
The SEPTA Love Stories contest draws entries that run the gamut from falling for the operator who drives the bus every day to reuniting with an old flame. However couples found love, their tales give hope to single passengers that love can happen when and where it is least expected.
The next time you board your bus, train or trolley, Mr. or Ms. Right might be there waiting for you. For inspiration on sparking a romance on the rails, read the stories of the SEPTA Sweethearts at www.septalovestories.org.