Remember when the subways used to run all night? Unless you were born before 1980, you probably don’t. For those who do remember, and those who would like to know what the future’s past looks like, SEPTA is reintroducing all-night subway service on Saturday, June 15, 2014. Philadelphia has not enjoyed round-the-clock subways since 1991.
“We’re excited to be able to provide this service that city, business leaders, and customers have been asking for,” says SEPTA general manager Joseph M. Casey, who additionally notes Philly has changed a lot since 1991.
Since 2006, the city has gained over 64,000 new residents. While the population growth has started to slow, it hasn’t stopped. Last year, the city’s population grew by little over 1 percent.
The round-the-clock subway service has three big caveats here.
First, SEPTA insists this is a pilot program to make sure that we can both have nice things and use our nice things regularly enough to justify the cost of these nice things.
Second, the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines will run in addition to everyone’s previous “only way to get to your 3AM hook up in North Philly” option, the Nite Owl; although it will continue running on weekdays—just not weekends and holidays.
Third, some of the subway stations are going to be unstaffed. Which means yes, there’s a possibility that if you ride the late night subway, you might be alone on the platform with, let’s say, some interesting folks.
To mitigate this, SEPTA says it will increase its police presence. In order to actually ride the trains, you have to pay, though, and at the unmanned stops, the train operators themselves (choo-choo!) will accept payments (standard modes of payment, cash, tokens, transpasses, no haggling). As everyone learned early on in their formative Philly-residency years, SEPTA does not make change, so make sure you come correct or at least don’t mind parting ways with that $5 bill.