Papal gridlock means bring your walking shoes [map]


If you are one of the two million people who wants to come see Pope Francis in Philadelphia this fall, start planning now. 

Mayor Michael Nutter is warning that major travel restrictions will be in place September 26 and 27.  He says the papal visit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Philadelphia and moving two million people into town isn’t going to be easy.

“This event more than likely is bigger and more impactful than anything you’ve ever seen,” said Nutter

Driving a car to the event is definitely out says Nutter — mass transit will be the only way to the pope celebrate Mass.

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SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey says the agency is modifying the normal weekend regional rail schedule to deal with the crowd.

“Only 31 of our systemwide 280 rail stations will be open for service,” Casey said.  “This will allow us to speed up service, recycle the trains to increase our system capacity.” (See list of stations below).

Casey says special regional rail passes costing $10 per day will be sold in limited quantities beginning July 15. Each pass will only be valid for specific stations. 

The Market Frankford El will only have two stops operating on each end.  The Frankford Transportation Center, and Girard Avenue from the Northeast, and 69th and 52nd street from the west.  They also have a special $10, three-day pass but tokens and transpasses can also be used on subways, trolleys and buses.

And if you want to use Amtrak, Senior Director of Major Stations Rina Cutler says they will be honoring reserved tickets only.

“This is both a security and operational issue and will help insure a better experience for our passengers,” Cutler said.

Once you depart a SEPTA station in Center City, be prepared to walk.  Mayor Nutter says it could be a two mile hike for some to get from a SEPTA station to the event sites.

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Donna Farrell of the WMOF is surrounded by transportation experts and Mayor Nutter at announcement. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Here are the SEPTA specifics for the papal weekend as of now:

At this time, SEPTA plans to operate pick-up only service at these specific regional rail stations:

         Paoli/Thorndale Line – Paoli and Radnor Stations
         Norristown/Manayunk Line – Norristown Transportation Center
         Chesnut Hill West Line  – Chestnut Hill West Station
         Lansdale/Doylestown Line – Lansdale and Fort Washington Stations
         Warminster Line – Warminster Station
         West Trenton Line – Woodbourne Station
         Fox Chase Line – Fox Chase Station
         Trenton Line – Croydon and Cornwells Heights Stations
         Media/Elywn Line –  Media and Primos Stations
         Wilmington/Newark Line – Wilmington and Marcus Hook Stations
         Airport Line –  Terminals C & D, Terminal B and Eastwick Station

Market-Frankford Line: Similar to Regional Rail, pick-up only service will be available westbound from Frankford Transportation Center and the Girard Avenue Station; eastbound pick-up only service will operate from 69th Street Transportation Center and 52nd Street Station, with drop-offs at yet-to-be-determined Center City stations.  After the event, service will express back to the outlying stations. Riders will not be able to board or exit the Market-Frankford Line from any other stations.

Broad Street Line:  Pick-up service will operate northbound from AT&T Station only; southbound pick-up service will be available at Fern Rock Transportation Center and the Cecil B. Moore Station, with drop-offs at yet-to-be-determined Center City stations.  Riders will not be able to board or exit the Board Street Line from any of the other stations.

Trolley:  Operating normal service:  Route 15 Service from 63rd & Girard; Route 11 and 13 service from Darby Transportation Center; Route 34 Trolley service from 61st & Baltimore; Route 36 Service from 60th & Eastwick. There will also be service from a limited number of stations on the Norristown High Speed Line and Route 101 Media and Route 102 Sharon Hill Trolley Lines.

Bus: At least 26 buses in the Center City and surrounding areas will be on detours due to street closures. Select bus routes will operate on weekday schedules throughout the weekend to accommodate ridership increases.

Amtrak is prepared to move significant numbers of people into and out of Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families convening.  Amtrak officials are working closely with partners at SEPTA and New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT) to optimize schedules and accommodate as many people as possible.  Amtrak will monitor and adjust seat inventory as needed as the World Meeting of Families approaches.  Officials encourage passengers to book tickets as far in advance as possible, and based on those bookings Amtrak will add coaches – and possibly even operate extra trains – as necessary.  All Amtrak trains will require reservations the weekend of the Papal visit.  Passengers will not be permitted to purchase tickets on board trains. 


Amtrak will provide complete service information and updates on its website,


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