Update: Around 3 p.m., SEPTA's command center was preparing for delays of up to 4 hours tonight for regional rail.
SEPTA's Command Center, the calm before the storm, in preparation of a crush of people who will seek to board outbound trains after the Mass. Passengers should expect delays of up to 4 hours to hop on SEPTA's regional rail lines.
A photo posted by Wendy Ruderman (@wendy.ruderman) on Sep 27, 2015 at 11:48am PDT
Transit riders heading into Philadelphia are generally reporting smooth trips, with near-empty trains and parking lots, and no lines. But that might not be the case as throngs of people try to depart from the papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway simultaneously.
PATCO, too, is bracing for a massive crush Sunday night after the pope's Mass. Beginning at 5 p.m., trains will depart Philadelphia every five minutes.
"It's coming home tonight (that) is going to be challenge for everybody," said John Hanson, the Delaware River Port Authority's chief executive. "It's going to take a little longer."
In the meantime, those arriving from near and far at 30th Street Station Sunday morning were gushing over how smooth and well organized the trips were.
"It was perfect," beamed Bob Eickholt, 68, of Kennett Square who arrived with his family, including his 3-year-old granddaughter, Ariana. "It was so well organized. I couldn't ask for better. It was the best organized thing I've ever seen."
The family has tickets for the afternoon Mass.
"I'm so excited," he said. "Except on TV I've never seen the pope before."
At PATCO's Woodcrest station, morning lines were brisk, with a steady flow of riders moving quickly through a baggage check. With about 6,000 boarding the trains Sunday morning, ridership was up compared with about 4,500 on Saturday, Hanson said.
Few problems -- or riders -- surfaced for some lines and stations.
— William Bender (@wbender99) September 27, 2015
— Mensah M. Dean (@MensahDean) September 27, 2015
— Jason Nark (@JasonNark) September 27, 2015
An exception to the sparse public transit crowds Sunday morning was the Broad Street Line's AT&T Station in South Philadelphia, where busloads of pilgrims were boarding trains into Center City.