SEPTA always reminds the public to “Respect the Train” by not walking or playing along train tracks. That message is especially important as the Greater Philadelphia region prepares for the Papal Visit September 26-27 and more than one million visitors.
“This is an exciting time for Philadelphia and we hope that those attending the many festivities being offered throughout the city will use SEPTA for their travels,” said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s Deputy General Manager. “However, we also want the public to understand that this is by no means a normal weekend for SEPTA. We will be running special service on our Regional Rail, Market-Frankford, Broad Street, Media/Sharon Hill and Norristown High Speed Lines.”
On September 26-27, SEPTA’s trains and the Media/Sharon Hill trolleys will operate more frequently, with vehicles expressing through stations. “We are not using the schedules people are accustomed to and train and trolleys are not stopping at all stations,” said Knueppel. “It is very important for people at vehicular and pedestrian crossings to pay attention to the crossing gates and signals. Trespassing on tracks is always dangerous and illegal and doing so this weekend may be an extremely dangerous decision.”
In addition to schedule changes, SEPTA is increasing passenger capacity on its vehicles for the Papal Visit. “We are anticipating many cars and people in the vicinity of our stations, as passengers will be driving to parking lots or be dropped off at the stations,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s Chief Officer of System Safety. “Please be aware of this increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic at our stations.”
Many of the passengers using SEPTA on September 26-27 will not be the Authority’s regular customers. To assist all riders, especially those unfamiliar with the SEPTA system, the authority will have employee ambassadors at all stations. “Our employees will be on hand to answer questions and help customers safely board and exit trains,” said Sauer. “It’s important for riders to pay attention to the directions of our staff, stay in the queue while waiting to board and let trains come to a complete stop before attempting to get on or off trains. Passengers should also stand behind the yellow lines on the platforms.”
All SEPTA customers traveling to the Papal Visit weekend events should bring their patience for the trip home at the conclusion of the festivities. “We are carrying thousands of people to Center City staggered over several hours in the morning,” said Knueppel. “When the events end, everyone will be heading back to our stations at the same time. We are going to get everyone home – but everyone can’t fit on the same train. It will take the same amount of time to get all of our passengers back to their destinations.”
Regional Rail passengers need to pay attention to their morning’s arrival station, either Jefferson Station, 30th Street or University City. Following the activities, customers must return to the stations where they got off in order to catch the correct Regional Rail Line train home.
Visitors heading to the festivities in Center City should plan on spending most, if not all of the day, in town. SEPTA reminds attendees to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and bring extra charged phone batteries.
“We have been anticipating the Papal Visit for many months and are eagerly awaiting the events of September 26th and 27th,” said Knueppel. “We ask visitors to remember to be aware of their surroundings and take time to be safe when traveling to and from the celebration on SEPTA.”