SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line is getting simpler

A SEPTA Market-Frankford line train prepares to leave the station. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A SEPTA Market-Frankford line train prepares to leave the station. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Confused about which Market-Frankford train to take? Not for long.

SEPTA is discontinuing skip-stop service on the MFL line as of Feb. 23 so riders won’t have to worry about boarding a train that doesn’t make their stop.

The change comes as SEPTA recognizes growing ridership in areas where few people were riding the rails. The agency made the decision to stop running A/B trains after running the line without skip-stops in the mornings for a few months in 2018. That trial helped make the case for the shift.

“The pilot program was helpful in demonstrating that we could provide all-stop service without impacting service quality for our customers,” said spokesperson Andrew Busch.

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Skip-stop service — a schedule in which trains alternate stopping at designated “A” or “B” stations — aims to decrease congestion at peak times at otherwise lightly-trafficked stations, Charles Webb, SEPTA’s chief officer of service planning, told Billy Penn in 2017.

But now that stations like Berks and York-Dauphin along the MFL are attracting more riders, skip-stop service doesn’t make sense. These areas are rapidly attracting new residential development and even getting billed as destinations for transit-oriented development.

The A/B system existed for more than 50 years, through decades in which the city experienced deep population losses in North Philly neighborhoods once busy with factories that have since shuttered.

Nevertheless, the change comes as a relief to many riders tired of worrying if they’re getting on the right train.

Busch notes that SEPTA will adjust the train schedule and potentially run more trains to adapt to the new policy. SEPTA will announce more details before February 23, when the spring schedule takes effect and the new policy comes into place.

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