SEPTA GM Joe Casey and the Phanatic welcoming passengers on board the Broad Street Line subway.
It’s April and shouts of “Play Ball!” can be heard across the country. Nothing beats the thrill of going to the ballpark to see your team pull off a big win — until you get stuck in a major traffic jam after the game.
As someone who frequently travels to ballparks throughout the U.S., — and prefers not to have to rent a car — one of the first features I explore when planning a trip is accessibility to the park via public transportation. In cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C., trains leave you just steps from the game. And, all teams now list mass transportation options — for better or worse — on their websites.
While public transit is becoming the way to get to a game because many new ballparks are being constructed in crowded city neighborhoods with little parking, taking a bus or “catching the sub” has been the most convenient and cost-effective method of traveling to a game in Philadelphia for decades.
AT&T Station, the last stop on Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) Broad Street Line subway, is located in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Sports Complex — where the famed Spectrum and Veterans Stadium once stood and is now the home of Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field and Xfinity Live entertainment center. The subway is a just an 11-minute ride from Center City (or eight minutes on a game-night Sports Express special), taking fans to within just a short walk to their venue. In fact, when the Temple University men’s basketball team played Duke at the Wells Fargo Center, head coach Fran Dunphy lead his team on a Broad Street Line ride from the school’s North Philadelphia campus and walked to the arena (was it a coincidence that the Owls defeated the Blue Devils that night?).
In 2011, fans made an average of 7,400 trips on the Broad Street Line to and from the ballpark each game day — a total of nearly 600,000 trips during the 81-game regular season. That’s thousands of people being in their seats in time for the first pitch because they are not stuck in pre-game traffic or having to leave at the seventh-inning stretch because they are afraid of being trapped in the parking lot even after the game is long over.
“The Phillies attract more than 43,000 fans every night. Add to that almost 20,000 people attending a hockey or basketball playoff game at the same time and road construction projects and you have traffic gridlock at the Sports Complex,” said SEPTA GM Joseph Casey. “However, our customers are well on their way home while their fellow fans are just merging onto the highway or crossing the bridge to New Jersey.”
And in Philadelphia, public transportation isn’t just convenient for people who live within the city’s boundaries. The Broad Street Line is accessible from a number of other SEPTA services, including the Market-Frankford Line, Regional Rail, and bus and trolley routes. South Jersey residents can also access the Broad Street Line from the Port Authority Transit Connection high-speed line.
The Phillie Phanatic leading passengers to SEPTA’s Phillies Express.
SEPTA’s convenience to the ballpark has earned a fan in the Phillie Phanatic. The big green guy joined the agency to celebrate Opening Night of the 2012 season with a party at the Broad Street Line’s Walnut-Locust Station and a ride on the specially decorated Phillies Express train to the ballpark. If the Phanatic could talk, he would tell fans to take mass transit to the game. And fans, regardless of their team allegiance, should listen.
Typically, when riding the rails in the Philadelphia region, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority customers can purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes — even onboard tickets — for their journeys. But the weekend of Sept. 26 to 27 will be far from a typical weekend in Philadelphia — Pope Francis will be in town, along with an estimated 1.5 to two million people attending public events along the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Transit authority operators nationwide have been victims of sometimes brutally violent acts, but in Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has had a decrease in bus operator assaults by almost 60% since 2011. How did they do that?
The cost of copper was around $2.50 a pound in mid-June. While that might not sound like a lot of money, when you have hundreds of feet of copper wire, you’re talking about thousands of dollars or more. Transit systems, which utilize copper in wiring, are the latest target for thieves looking to make some easy cash.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.