When Regional Rail riders heard that their commutes would be short 115 Silverline V cars – or about 12,000 seats – due to maintenance, they knew it would be a pain. But they may not have anticipated the doubled or tripled commute times, or the trains so packed that riders would try to stand between cars. For those dreading the ride in and of Center City, here are tips on how to avoid the Regional Rail chaos altogether.
- Tag-team transit. No need to stick to one mode of transportation to get to your destination. Instead of going to your nearest Regional Rail stop, take a ride-sharing service to the nearest subway or trolley line. Uber is offering 40 percent off rides to transit stations through Sept. 5. And Lyft is offering new users up to $50 off their first ride, using the discount code SEPTA50. The Norristown Elm Street Station is just a 6-minute drive from the Norristown High-Speed Line; Fox Chase is about 16 minutes from the Broad Street Line; Elwyn about 5 minutes from Media for the Route 101 trolley; Trenton about 30-40 minutes from Frankford Transportation Center. Make sure to account for extra road time during rush hour. (Many users have already switched to this method, with UberPOOL reporting a 26% increase over last week.)
- Swap transit lines. Amtrak will add four additional stops to Ardmore and extra cars to the Keystone trains, said Mike Tolbert, Amtrak spokesman. SEPTA reached out to Amtrak for aid, but Tolbert said no decisions on equipment have been made yet. Three eastbound trains (No.'s 600, 642 and 644) that stop in Paoli at 7:23 a.m., 8:09 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. will also stop in Ardmore about 12 minutes later. A westbound train (647) that stops in Paoli at 4:10 p.m. will make an earlier stop in Ardmore, said Tolbert. In addition, they will add an additional coach on six of the eight Keystone trains that travel between Harrisburg and New York, he said. Just don't try to get on with your SEPTA ticket. "You will need an Amtrak ticket to ride an Amtrak train," he said.
- Ditch the engine. Use your transit troubles as motivation to get in some exercise before and after work. The Bicycle Coalition has a map of bike lanes in the city and also shows the bus stops closest to the Circuit Trails. If you plan to bike all the way to and from Center City, the Bicycle Coalition suggests, take the Chester Valley Trail and Schuykill River Trail from Delaware and Montgomery Counties and the PA Bike Route E from Delaware or Bucks Counties. The website also notes that most Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stops have bike racks.
- Beat the rush. Consider doing happy hour rather than rush hour. After watching two packed trains pass by Suburban Station on Tuesday evening, Jonathan Magen of Jenkintown decided to get dinner with his wife downtown and try again around 6:30 p.m.
Staff writers Mari Schaefer and Olivia Exstrum contributed to this report.