Joyride to Philly

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by MARC Rider, Jan 10, 2019.

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  1. Jan 10, 2019 #1

    MARC Rider

    M

    MARC Rider

    Conductor

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    Being one of those Govt workers on furlough, I had some time off yesterday (and today, and tomorrow.  It's kind of like practice for retirement.) So I  decided to earn a few TQP for 2019 and burn a few AGR points and get out of town for the day.  My main mission was to go to SEPTA HQ and get a Senior Citizen Key Card that allows me unlimited free rides on SEPTA.  Wish WAMTA and MARC would offer such a deal.  But half price isn't so bad.

    I rode up on the Vermonter, leaves at 850 am, gets into Philly at 10.  I splurged for BC with the 2x1 seating, and had a seat pair to myself.  Free coffee and a nice on time ride to 30th st.

    As mentioned, the Solari board is still there.

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    Went up to the SEPTA level.  They have turnstiles for track access, but there was a person at an open gate who waved me through as I  displayed my Amtrak eticket. Went up to the track, took the next train toward Center City, which was a Silverliner V.  Got off at Jefferson, went upstairs, crossed Market St., and went into SEPTA HQ, where I  was directed downstairs for my photo ID.  They have some historical exhibits, the best is a fully restored PCC car, just like the ones that clanked down the street in front of our house, circa 1970 and kept me up all night until I got used to it.

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    That was a real time warp. I might still have one of those SEPTA maps somewhere in my clutter.

    I  had to wait a bit for an open office, but they accepted my Maryland driver's license as proof of age, and I  was soon the proud owner of a SEPTA Key Senior Fare Card. Apparently I have to come back in 4 years and get a new picture.

    Now, what to do with it.  I  had a little time before lunch, so I  decided to ride the Broad St. subway to Fern Rock, and then catch a regional rail back to Center City.  Back in the day, this connection didn't exist.  In fact, this is the first time I rode the Broad St. Line since 1973, when I was in college and worked at Albert Einstein Medical Center during a vacation.  I was a regular on the line for 4 years during high school, too.  We didn't do wimpy things like yellow school buses in Philly.

    To be continued, as I'm having problems uploading pictures from my phone.
     
  2. Jan 10, 2019 #2

    MARC Rider

    M

    MARC Rider

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    OK, I  was riding up the Broad Street line, which wasn't that different from circa 1970, except that the stations now have florescent lighting, so you don't feel like you're in a gloomy cave, a few stations have been remodeled, and the finally installed the express tracks between Erie and Olney. (in the early 1990s, according to wikipedia.)  The "new" cars are from the 1980s, but this is the first time I've ridden them.

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    But look! They still have a few old B1 cars like I used to ride rusting away.

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    It was up a ramp, through a turnstile, and down some stairs to the Regional Rail Platform.

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    After a 10 minute wait,  caught a train from west trenton.  We didn't go very fast and we skipped stopping at Wayne Jct. and North Broad, but did stop at Temple U, a station that didn't exist back in the day.  Soon I was back at Jefferson Sta. and too hungry to walk over to Jim's  steaks or the Famous 4th St. Deli.  So I went to Reading Terminal Market and had a roast beef and broccoli Rabe on a very tasty Philly style sub roll at Dinic's.  I think its better than a cheesesteak, actually.

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    I then did a walking tour of my old neighborhood, which actually hasn't changed a lot, except for a few stores that aren't in business anymore. I worked my way over to 5th street, by Independence Hall, which is closed due to the government shutdown.

    My destination was the Rittenhouse Square area on the other side of center city.  My joyride involved the Market St. Subway-el to 13th St. where I  changed to the subway surface cars. 

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    After walking about, enjoying the ambience of the city, it was time to go back to the station.  First, over to Suburban Station and a regional rail train to 30th st.  Then I followed the signs to the "Club Acela," which has been rebranded back to the Metropolitan Lounge at the door, even if it's still called Club Acela all over the rest of the station. I'm not sure I like the style makeover, it looks like they got their furniture from the same vendor who outfitted the USS Enterprise in 1967.

    I booked my trip home on Acela First Class.  I don't want to think how many AGR points I used for a one hour ride, but it was nice.  My assigned seat was forward facing at a table.  There was someone sitting in the facing seat.  The attendant told me that there was a free table across the aisle and it was fine for me to move, and so i did.

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    A nice generous pour of bourbon.

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    Lamb tagine with pearl couscous for dinner.

    We actually had to sit outside the Baltimore tunnel for a few minutes because we were about 10 minutes early.  We arrived at the station about 5 minutes early.

    All in all a nice day, and now I'm set up for more free SEPTA joyrides.
     
  3. Jan 10, 2019 #3

    E60JPC

    E60JPC

    E60JPC

    Train Attendant

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    Thanks for sharing, MARC Rider! Your post brings back a lot of old memories.

    I used to ride the BSL to High School, from Lombard-South to Olney TC. The "new" cars entered service during this time - in 1982. I'm surprised those old B1 cars haven't been scrapped by now!

    A PCC-equipped trolley line (#5) used to run past the apartment where I grew up on 5th Street.

    There actually was a Temple U station on the Reading Lines and, later, Conrail commuter trains out of Reading Terminal, though the current station in use by SEPTA is not the same station used back then. There was also a Spring Garden Street station, the first stop after leaving Reading Terminal, that was abandoned when service to Reading Terminal ended in 1984.
     
  4. Jan 10, 2019 #4

    railiner

    railiner

    railiner

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    Great report, thanks for posting!

    Brings back great memories of when I used to visit Philly almost weekly for a couple of years in the late sixties...

    The last time I was there, was to ride the Autumn Excursion's a few years ago...
     
  5. Jan 10, 2019 #5

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    Welcome to the SEPTA Senior Key Card club! :)

    I used to chuckle when little old ladies--total strangers--would sit down across from me on a SEPTA bus and look right at me and, just as excited as a child with a new toy, say "I get to ride this for free!"

    I swore I would never do that. So of course everywhere I go now I pull out my card and say "Look, I get to ride SEPTA for free!" :giggle:

    I was amazed at how smooth the process was to get the temporary card, how polite everyone was, and how quickly the permanent card arrived in the mail. 

    I have used the card on the Regional Rail and on the buses, but I have not been brave enough to try the trolleys yet.
     
  6. Jan 10, 2019 #6

    VTTrain

    VTTrain

    VTTrain

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    Well... you do have to make up the cost of the trip to get your fare card before your rides are technically free.   :giggle:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2019
  7. Jan 10, 2019 #7

    railiner

    railiner

    railiner

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    Wow, the regional’s are free, too?

    So you can ride from Delaware to New Jersey, free? 
     
  8. Jan 10, 2019 #8

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    Delaware and Jersey are half the regular fare. 

    Septa is going to lose a lot of money by letting seniors ride the Regional Rails for free. It was a $1 fare that I sold about 10 a day of. And during the flower show I sold about 70-75 a day! That's a lot of revenue lost! But nobody said that Septa was run by smart people..... 
     
  9. Jan 11, 2019 #9

    fairviewroad

    fairviewroad

    fairviewroad

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    The seniors fares are subsidized for by the PA Lottery. I can't tell whether the Lottery pays for the entire fare or just a portion. If the former, then it is in SEPTA's best interest to encourage as many seniors to ride as possible. Either way, more senior riders = more Lottery dollars for SEPTA. Some of those folks coming into town on Regional Rail will transfer to rapid transit or bus lines, which racks up another Lottery-subsidized fare, etc.
     
  10. Jan 11, 2019 #10

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    Also, Steve, remember that many of us who have the Senior Key Card also have more time and flexibility.

    So, for example, now that it's $9.00 instead of $18.00 to go round-trip from NJ, I am much more likely to go down just for a day trip, buy food at Wawas or from a street vendor or at RTM, perhaps pick up a card at CVS--in other words, spend money in the city I would have spent elsewhere without the card.

    Or now I could go to Media or Paoli or Chestnut Hill or all sorts of other places I wouldn't have before--now that I can go there free, I may go and spend money in their local restaurants, etc.

    So, even if the system itself lost money, the city benefits from having more tourist money enter it.
     

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