Philly Phlash tourist bus is back in operation

The bus line specifically designed to help tourists avoid the confusion of Philadelphia’s mass transit system is back in business.

The Philadelphia Phlash bus. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Phlash bus. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A Philadelphia tradition has returned to town, with hopes of making things easier for tourists from near and far.

The Phlash bus system has 19 stops from Penns Landing to the Please Touch Museum and offers rides for people who are specifically heading to museums or other tourist destinations. In order to go to the Philadelphia Zoo or Please Touch Museum, you have to switch buses at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Jennifer Nagle, Executive Vice President of the Independence Visitors Center said they will run weekends only until Memorial Day weekend. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day we will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.”

The tourist-friendly loop is for more than just out-of-towners.

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It’s for “visitors even from our local region that are not accustomed to mass transit, public transit, but they like to get around Center City, Philadelphia, very quickly, easily [with] less stops and conveniently, if they’re going to spend the day downtown,” Nagle said. “Phlash was designed to again make your experience in the city for the day very easy and convenient.”

There are a few changes to the service this year, one being that anyone with a SEPTA Key card can ride the buses at no charge.” As long as you flash your SEPTA key card to our Phlash driver, we will then count your key card and you’re able to board the vehicle,” she said. “So, we’re not swiping, but we are recognizing your key card and you get to ride for free.”

Another change is that they are going to add post-summer service on the weekends from Labor Day until December 30, something that didn’t occur during the pandemic. A 20th stop on the bus route from last year, the Observation Tower at Liberty Place was discontinued because the attraction has shut down.

The fare is $2 for a single ride and $5 buys you an all-day pass on the buses. Most are still the original purple color that the service began with, but some others are white. All of the buses will have the Phlash lettering on the front.

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