If SEPTA is still around in six months...
January 9, 2005 11:00 PM   Subscribe

"Like New York City's MTA, SEPTA has a tourist-friendly pass that for $5.50 allows for 24 hours of riding across the entire system. On Saturday, the 4th of December 2004, I tried to fit as much into one day as I could. . . get your pass ready, we're boarding."
posted by deafmute (26 comments total)
Great post! Many, many years ago, SEMTA (now SMART) had a similar deal - for 75 cents you could buy an all-day pass to ride any where their buses took you (through the far reaches of Metro Detroit, and a bit of the city itself). It was a great way for my brother and I to have some low-cost fun, riding around in random directions. It was also a good way to learn about the area, since we didn't have to concentrate on driving and could just watch the scenery. My favorite route was from downtown Pontiac down Woodward Avenue, through the lush neighborhoods of upscale Bloomfield and Birmingham, the quirky area of artsy Royal Oak, the State Fairgrounds, the Six Mile area which was wall-to-wall adult theaters and strip clubs, to the then-new Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:14 PM on January 9, 2005

No, neither pass permits 24 hours of riding. All passes are valid only for the calendar day and a few hours the next day (corresponding generally to the end of the service day). Unless you buiy the day pass at midnight on the day you want it, most day passes aren't actually good for 24 literal hours.
posted by calwatch at 11:58 PM on January 9, 2005

Wow, awesome link, deafmute. I love the Philly area: some sections have such a haunting, odd aesthetic. The sheer breadth of the series really helped to capture that beauty for me, and some of the pictures left me absolutely breathless.

There's something to this picture that nails me.

And this guy is now my desktop.
posted by NoamChomskyStoleMyFace at 12:26 AM on January 10, 2005

i lived in Philly for 8 years (and now 12 in SF). refreshing to see december in the City of Brotherly Love. there's a lot of the city not seen that can be gotten to by SEPTA. i hope he does another in 6 months (and with a spare battery). or maybe i'll do my own next time i'm back there (family in jersey).
posted by zombiejesus at 1:21 AM on January 10, 2005

Great post. I don't ride SEPTA too much anymore, living within a short bike ride from work, but I did use the Broad Street Subway every day to get to Temple U for four years. Brought back a lot of memories. I did just ride the R-8 on Friday (featured in some of the pictures). The view of the former industrial heart of the city, now decimated, is striking.
posted by fixedgear at 2:51 AM on January 10, 2005

Hey look--I can see New York in the background!

Seriously, I really am curious about Philidelphia, particularly for it's architectural treasures. May I ask, does Phily have one or more neighborhoods akin to Georgetown, or Alexandria (DC) in architecture? No need for it to be in great yuppy shape...
posted by ParisParamus at 3:14 AM on January 10, 2005

Of course septa is being run poorly...Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/31/2004 | SEPTA delays fare hike, cutbacks

How is it that this group and Amtrak are run poorly? (Sorry to hijack in the thread this way...it's a good post) I mean, from philly it's cheaper to take a plane to Boston than a train. Like 1/2 price.
posted by filmgeek at 3:52 AM on January 10, 2005

oh, the memories... not all good, but i have a real soft spot for philly. the city has more character than most anonymous/sterile big city centers. great post.
posted by moonbird at 4:07 AM on January 10, 2005

Thanks for the compliments everyone.

NoamChomskyStoleMyFace: Philly is definitely a very strange town. Driving up North Broad and around some of those areas (including Olney, some photos of which are in this post) in the middle of the night can be a very haunting experience; it's like going into another universe.

fixedgear: Is it possible that there's another Owl on Mefi? I ride the awful, filthy, urine-soaked BSL up to Temple every day (but not for too much longer), and the day I stop will be a very sad one indeed.

ParisParamus: Philly suffers from a ton of New York envy, and I say this as someone who plans on moving there once I graduate. It's a great city on its own merits though, and if you're looking for interesting architecture it's a treasure-trove. I've been told that, walking east to west through Center City, you can see almost every American architectural movements, and lots of ones unique to Philly. As to the neighborhoods, I don't know much about Georgetown or Alexandria, but Philadelphia has some really fantastic neighborhoods in what, as far as I know, are in the same vein. Some are old and prosperous, and some are very up-and-coming (read: lots of abandoned rowhomes waiting to be fixed up). Among there are gorgeous Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill, Fairmount, the Art Museum. The list goes on. My knowledge of Philly's neighborhoods is way too poor to tell you much else.

filmgeek: I can't say anything about Amtrack, but SEPTA's problems are legion and almost too numerous to name. One of its biggest is that the state and organization itself, rather than promoting public transit as the preferred way to travel (like, say, the tube), instead treat it like welfare for people too poor to afford a car. I think alot of SEPTA's problems are indicative of problems with transit throughout the rest of the country, and could easily make another FPP. Hmmm.....
posted by deafmute at 4:52 AM on January 10, 2005

God how I hate SEPTA.

Maybe I'm just saying that because I just saw 4 (yes, FOUR) route-42 buses drive by in an eastbound caravan, thus guaranteeing I have to walk to work today...

I understand how buses get bunched up like that (I wrote an article on the subject for E2 once). What I don't understand is how it could possibly happen at 46th street, eastbound, only two dozen low-traffic blocks from the 69th street terminus (where they could, conceivably, hold and re-align).

bitter bitter morning.
posted by dmd at 5:45 AM on January 10, 2005

Everywhere you go in Philly, there's interesting architecture. Take a walk through any neighborhood and you're bound to see some amazing buildings in various states and conditions. As far as SEPTA's concerned, they're on the brink of being broken. With our state government's love of underfunding anything having to do with Philadelphia, SEPTA will soon be basically useless to most of our citizens. I ride a motorcycle now, and it's much better, but with our parking and traffic congestion, we should really be investing money into the trains. It still irritates me that we spent so much money on those god damned stadiums while SEPTA struggles to make ends meet. We really should have a subway system akin to Washington, NYC, Boston, or San Fran. The 2 subway lines we have don't cut it anymore, and the buses are a poor substitute. Instead of raising prices and cutting service, we should take on a large scale, well funded public transportation renewal project. It might just make our city more livable.

But anyway, I still love it. These are some nice photos.
posted by password at 6:31 AM on January 10, 2005

The "system" linked in the first post is almost definitely not the system that the day pass applies to—considering that from Trenton to 30th Street, it's $7 each way, a day pass for less than that is highly unlikely.
posted by oaf at 7:03 AM on January 10, 2005

With our state government's love of underfunding anything having to do with Philadelphia...

Don't feel alone, the state is just as uninterested in funding transit in Pittsburgh. I'm waiting to find out if my bus route will be discontinued due to PAT's constant budget woes. Meanwhile they are dumping a billion dollars into a new turnpike that no one wants, will destroy scores of communities and goes nowhere useful. Sorry for the rant, anytime someone mentions transit in PA, I go sort of rabid.
posted by octothorpe at 7:03 AM on January 10, 2005

Yay Philly! Boo Septa! Damn Green Line driving by me all the time *$%#@.
posted by 31d1 at 7:05 AM on January 10, 2005

Oaf, check here.

DayPasses are also valid for a one-way ride on any Regional Rail Line, with the exception of service between Center City Philadelphia stations and Trenton, N.J.

I rode the R2 line from Wilmington, DE to Center City Philly every day for 3 years. As someone who hates to drive, I really appreciated the train time and used it sleep, read, listen to music, play the Gameboy. When it worked, it was great. When there were problems, they were painful.

It always amused me to hear people complain on and on about SEPTA, a vast, and largely effective public transportation system. As someone coming from the Midwest, it seemed a luxury under appreciated by the locals.
posted by Otis at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2005

Maybe it's the angle, but this picture reminds me of a plane taking off.

The CTA in Chicago has a $5 unlimited ride one-day visitor pass, though you don't technically have to be a visitor to get it. It is valid for 24 hours after you activate it and can be used on any CTA bus or El train. You can also get 2, 3, and 5 day passes as well. I wonder if anyone's ever tried something like this in Chicago.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2005

Go Owls!!

Philly native here (now a New Yorker) and I used to take Septa everywhere from my days as an undergraduate at Temple to while working there.

Once my friend and I took both the Broad Street Line from Fern Rock to Broad & Pattison and the Market Frankfor Line from Frankford all teh way to 69th Street on our unlimited pass.

Sadly this was long before digital cameras.
posted by turbanhead at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2005

A day pass is the absolutely best way to enjoy San Francisco.
posted by cookie-k at 9:10 AM on January 10, 2005

We really should have a subway system akin to Washington, NYC, Boston, or San Fran

You may not want to include Washington in that list. Nice as our public transit is, it is starting to encounter severe problems. Even though three stations have opened within the last few months, we're dealing with spiralling maintenance costs, major budget shortfalls (never a good combination), and mismanagement. The system just experienced its first major train crash. This isn't to say that the system is a disaster, but it is certainly not a model of efficiency. In fact, it's interesting to me how the entire above discussion about SEPTA could be about WMATA. The Washington Metro also has visitor passes.

And ParisParamus, there are many neighborhoods in the DC area with interesting architecture that are not nearly as yuppified as Georgetown or Alexandria.
posted by casu marzu at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2005

DayPasses are also valid for a one-way ride on any Regional Rail Line, with the exception of service between Center City Philadelphia stations and Trenton, N.J.

This means that the DayPass is more expensive than the actual ticket unless you're using a peak-rate Zone 5 ($5.50), in which case the cost is the same. Trenton is Zone 6 ($7, but they want to raise it to $9.25 or something).
posted by oaf at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2005

For those who want to read up on the current SEPTA crisis...
posted by soyjoy at 1:27 PM on January 10, 2005

I'm from philly... and let me tell ya, those photos reminded me of why I don't miss that town.

I'll tell ya, though, I'd kill for a good cheesesteak in Phoenix.
posted by ph00dz at 2:13 PM on January 10, 2005

[this is good]
posted by roboto at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2005

ph00dz: Is "tell ya" a philly-ism?
posted by Eideteker at 5:41 PM on January 10, 2005

After living in Philly for about 5 years, I can tell you that SEPTA is spelled similarly to SEPTIC for a reason. Philly has a lot of interesting architecture, true, and those were some good pictures, but, overall Philly is a sewer. It's the dirtiest big city I've been to, actually make that the dirtiest city period. I'll go back to visit, but I never want to live there again.

I second the cheese steak comment though, ph00dz. I can't get a cheese steak or hoagie here in Charlotte like I could in Philly or the suburbs.
posted by Bort at 6:02 PM on January 10, 2005

Is "tell ya" a philly-ism?

Yes, 'tell ya' is a Philly-ism. We also say 'youse' - well some of us do, anyway. We like our cheesesteaks wit' (onions) and we know that Kerry lost because he ordered his cheesesteak with *Swiss* rather than wiz or prov. The South Philly folks I work with call a basement a "cellar," and a living room a "parlor" (though parlor comes out more like pallor). It boggles.
posted by fixedgear at 1:43 PM on January 11, 2005

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