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Philadelphia Transportation: How To Navigate the City With Ease

April 5, 2023 By CityPASS

Learning to navigate any new city is an undertaking, so transplants and visitors to Philadelphia may be discouraged upon arriving at The City of Brotherly Love.

However, unlike other large cities in the United States — like Los Angeles or Dallas — which can be challenging to get around without renting a car or overpaying for ride-sharing, public transportation services in Philadelphia are affordable and easily accessible.

If you're preparing for an upcoming trip or move to Philadelphia, this handy guide will help you navigate the city's public transportation system confidently, so you can visit all of Philadelphia's top attractions!

What Transit Options Do You Have in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia's transportation services are exhaustive, and visitors to the city should be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get around using the existing public transportation system.

While travelers from other large metro areas like New York and Chicago may already be familiar with large public transportation systems like subways and above-ground trains, an infrastructure of this magnitude may surprise individuals from smaller cities or more rural areas.

There are many ways to get around Philadelphia using public transportation services, and the transportation system in the city includes:

  • Buses
  • Subway lines
  • Trolleys
  • Regional trains

Easily Accessible Public Transportation

Although you may find yourself using various modes of transportation while in Philadelphia, you should have no problems navigating the Philadelphia transportation system or getting where you need to go.

One of the most accessible and all-encompassing options for navigating the city is purchasing a Septa Key. The key card itself costs $4.95, but you can use these funds for transportation fares if you load your card's balance within 30 days of purchase.

Using your Septa Key, you can swipe your key card when using public transportation in Philadelphia, meaning you won't need to carry any cash or credit cards. The Septa Key can be used on any of the Septa modes of transportation, including:

  • City buses
  • The Norristown High-Speed Line
  • The Broad Street Line
  • Trolleys
  • The Market-Frankford Line
  • The Regional Rail

Bike Sharing Networks With Dedicated Bike Lanes

If sitting on a crowded bus doesn't sound like your cup of tea, try bicycling your way around the city! With more than 200 miles of designated biking lanes in Philadelphia, you can easily get around town on a bike.

Visitors can rent bikes whenever they want to get around using the bike-sharing app, Indego; With this app, you can rent a bicycle located in a bike parking area near you, ride it to your next destination, and lock it back up at the nearest bicycle parking area.

Some of the most well-maintained and easy-to-navigate bike routes in Philadelphia include:

  • East Philadelphia to West Philadelphia via Pine Street and Spruce Street
  • North Philadelphia to South Philadelphia via Delaware Avenue

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia offers an online interactive street grid map that visitors can use to help navigate.

Philadelphia Trolley Works Trolley Routes

For a truly unique experience navigating the city of Philadelphia, consider opting for a "Hop On Hop Off" tour from The Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works.

Part public transportation, part tour, this bus lets ticket holders hop on at the southwest corner of 6th Street and Market Street. From here, the double-decker tour bus takes you around Philadelphia, with a knowledgeable tour guide educating you about Philadelphia's history and notable city landmarks.

Hop off at any of the bus's 27 stops, which include some of Philadelphia's top attractions like City Hall, the "Rocky Steps" at the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Music on Broad Street, the Philadelphia Zoo, and more.

If you choose not to get off at one of the stops, the bus offers a looped service and will return you to your original hop-on-point.

Tips To Save Time Navigating Philadelphia

Even with an excellent public transportation system, you may spend more time commuting than you think when moving around Philadelphia. Use these tips to save time.

Avoid Peak Travel and Traffic Times

Like all cities, Philadelphia is subject to certain times of the day when traffic is terrible. Even public transportation can be affected by these delays, and you may end up riding with significantly more commuters than usual.

To avoid wasting unnecessary time commuting, try not to use public transportation on the weekdays from 6 am to 9 am and from 3 pm to 7 pm.

Use the Septa Regional Rail App

In addition to the Septa Key, Philadelphia's public transportation provider, Septa, has gone one step further in making it easy to get around the city by providing an app. Download the app to:

  • Load and review your Septa Key balance
  • Review Septa passes
  • Look over previous public transportation trips

Research Routes That Are Less Traveled

Do your best to avoid the busiest routes during the busiest periods. For example, if you're trying to get to University City for an early dinner, consider taking a route that doesn't involve driving straight through Center City.

Of course, it can be hard to figure out how to avoid traffic in a new city; use the Septa Trip Planner to help plan your travel route and get an accurate estimated arrival time.

Save Time With Transportation and Save Money on Your Destination

If you're planning an upcoming trip to Philadelphia, you'll be able to get around the city easily using the public transportation system. Not only can you save time and money on an unnecessary car rental or ride-sharing, but you can also use the additional time saved commuting to visit Philadelphia's top destinations.

When you bundle with Philadelphia CityPASS® tickets, you can save up to on the city's top attractions, including:

Header Image ©Bryan Karl Lathrop

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