Weekend partygoers may no longer have to split cab fare after a late night on the town.
On June 3, SEPTA announced its pilot program to operate a 24-hour subway service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines beginning on June 15. The summer pilot service will run from 12 a.m. until 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until Labor Day weekend.
The overnight service pilot returns after being shut down in 1991 due to low ridership and safety concerns at the time. SEPTA’s senior management has acknowledged the changes in the city since then, however. “There’s an increase in late night activity around the city and an increase in population of people in the city compared to 1991,” SEPTA spokesperson Manuel McDonnell-Smith said. “Our customers have asked us to operate service on the weekends so that they can have an additional option to make their way to all these locations.”
The late night trains on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines will run every 20 minutes between midnight and 5 am on the weekend. SEPTA officials agreed that there would be a need for increased security during those hours. “We want people to be mindful of their safety when they’re taking SEPTA at any time of the day,” Smith said. According to Smith, there will be an officer aboard every train that operates in the overnight service.
There will also be additional deployment of SEPTA police and personnel at major hubs and terminals, he said. SEPTA cashiers will be present at stations with high ridership. Passengers will be able to pay the operator at unstaffed boarding ovations.
“I think it’s long overdue,” rising College junior Jade Parker said of the pilot. “People always complain about Philly closing down to early so this will definitely be helpful.”
During the pilot run, SEPTA will stop the Nite Owl bus service, which follows the same pattern as the subway and currently serves as the late night public transportation option.
The train will also replace the Nite Owl on July Fourth and Labor Day.
While the pilot may not necessarily be the less expensive option, it could outweigh its cost in terms of convenience for riders. “There will be extra costs for traction power and additional security and support it will, but again the point of the pilot is for us to take a look at a number of factors: including increased ridership,” Smith said.
Tomorrow morning at 11 am SEPTA senior management will host a kick off at the Walnut-Locust station of the Broad Street Line for the launch of the pilot program, which begins on Saturday night. Xfinity will also announce its completion of Xfinity Wifi installation on most Broad Street Line stations. According to a SEPTA media advisory report, SEPTA riders will be among the first in the country to experience free internet access on subway platforms.