Train travel: '1,000 percent better than expected'

Visitors experienced a mostly smooth ride getting into Philadelphia via SEPTA and PATCO on Saturday morning.

"It was like 1,000 percent better than I expected," said Janice Cook, 62, of Philadelphia, who took the SEPTA train from Fox Chase around 8 a.m. She got off at Jefferson Station, where SEPTA employees handed out maps of the city to a steady stream of riders.

Jimmy Trevino, 59, from San Antonio, Texas, said the people on his train from the airport were singing. One was playing guitar.

"It was pretty nice, everybody was talking to each other," he said.

There was a steady trickle but smaller crowd than expected arriving at PATCO's Ferry Avenue station in Camden. Trains began departing at 5:30 am

"It's not a hassle at all," said Rita Pierok, 50, of C, on her way to volunteer at 20th and Callowhill. "I think it's wonderful for the city."

With only a small crowd gathered at the Fort Washington station, some blamed the pre-papal hype.

"I think it scared all the people away," said Ed Swift of Whitemarsh, one of a half-dozen or so volunteers directing the little traffic that arrived.

Still, industrious vendors hawked pretzels and memorabilia. Jay DeFillips and Frank Sciarra arrived at 5 a.m. with crates of Pope Francis in Philadelphia T-shirts, including one with the pontiff clutching a cheesesteak. "$15! They're $40 downtown!" DeFillips, of Conshohocken, warned.

Minutes earlier two elderly woman bought 18 shirts -- then boarded the train for the historic day.