SEPTA’s riders prefer rails over roads for weekend late night travel. Responding to the overwhelming popularity of weekend overnight subway service pilot on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, SEPTA has decided to extend the program indefinitely.
Since the June 15, launch of the pilot aimed at accommodating and evaluating rider demand for late night service on Saturdays and Sundays, an average of 15,000 riders each weekend have boarded trains between midnight and 5:00 a.m. That represents a significant increase over the baseline average of 9,000 travelers who previously used the weekend Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines Nite Owl service operated with buses.
Overnight passenger gains have been strongest on the Market-Frankford Line with an average of 10,000 riders each weekend. The highest ridership numbers were noted at 15th Street and 2nd Street Stations. An average of 5,000 riders board trains on the Broad Street Line during weekend pilot hours, with robust ridership recorded at Walnut-Locust and Lombard-South Stations.
Weekend train service has proven to be most popular during holiday weekends when ridership gains peaked more than 100 percent on select days. Over the July 4, weekend, 24,430 riders traveled on both lines during the overnight hours. Ridership peaked again over Labor Day weekend with 17, 192 passengers choosing overnight subway travel.
In addition to ridership, passenger safety was also evaluated during the pilot. With a proactive increase in SEPTA Police presence on overnight trains, safety issues have been minimal.
While Septa is encouraged by the positive ridership trends, this service is more costly than the bus service previously offered. We are examining areas to reduce costs without compromising safety.
“Late night customers have proven, by riding in record numbers each weekend that this is service they want,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “SEPTA is proud to be part of Philadelphia’s late night renaissance. That’s why even with the increased costs we have decided to continue overnight service.”