Some in suburbs worry about getting to Philadelphia for papal visit

We’ve heard for weeks that the best way to get to Philadelphia for Pope Francis’s visit is to come on a bus with a church group or to get a regional rail pass from SEPTA.

But some say the way SEPTA has structured the visit shuts out people who live in the suburbs but don’t drive.

Vickie Kress, 68, lives in Rosemont and while not Catholic is hoping to see the pope during his visit later this month. The problem is Kress doesn’t have a car, and her commuter rail stop at Bryn Mawr will be closed that weekend. That means she would have to walk or hitch a ride to a trolley or rail stop more than a mile away.

“Someone somewhere must think that we all have cars or helicopters or something to get from one stop to the next,” Kress said. “I mean, the whole point of taking public transportation is you can’t get there any other way. I mean, Wonder Woman can fly, but the rest of us need SEPTA.”

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Kress would also have to walk from 30th Street Station to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway once she gets into the city. She said given her age, she doesn’t think she has the stamina.  

Kress said several of her friends who live in the area and just became Catholics “wouldn’t dream of coming to see Pope Francis because as they explained, it’s just too hard to get into town.”

Only 31 of SEPTA’s 282 regional rail stops will operate during the weekend of the pope’s visit. SEPTA has said it changed the rail schedule so it could run more trains and more efficiently get millions of people in and out of the city.  SEPTA is also trying to avoid the chaos that unfolded when people packed trains to come watch the 2008 Phillies World Series championship parade.  The system was so overloaded, SEPTA said that some trains took as long as three hours to get into Center City that day.

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