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.
There is an epidemic of safety accidents, absenteeism and high turnover among transit’s front line employees and it’s bleeding the transportation industry billions of dollars. But the inoculation may be closer than you think. Employee engagement is the best immunization for what’s ailing the industry.
Video surveillance technology is a vital component to transit and rail operations as agencies recognize the value such solutions offer. A comprehensive system does more than deliver high quality video and audio recordings. Supporting data and software tools increase the efficiency of agencies’ video management operations, substantiate liability claims and investigations, and promote safety for both passengers and operators alike.
In case you missed it, Pope Francis visited America — and was followed by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims during his stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. It’s fitting, given Pope Francis’ penchant for public transportation, that transit played a key role in taking the masses to papal visit activities.
A transit authority’s website, contact center tools and social media are all critical touch points for customers as they engage with transit agencies. At this stage in the relationship, the focus should be on informing and educating prospective customers so they have the incentive to provide their demographic information (e.g. email address, cell phone number, social media contact, etc.).
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.