SEPTA 101 – Tips to Survive the Philadelphia Public Transportation System

For many people, taking public transportation can be stressful and scary. It is normal to worry about missing your stop and purchasing a ticket.

After taking the train to and from Philadelphia every day, I consider myself a SEPTA professional. When I first started commuting to and from Temple University, I was nervous and did not know what to expect, but it is second nature to me now. If my train is late, I do not bat an eye. If the train breaks down, I hope it is not for more than an hour. To make it out alive, let me fill you in on a little commuter 101.


Buy your tickets before you get on the train

It’s a rookie mistake to wait to buy your ticket on the train during rush hour. Most trains will not let you on, or even up the stairs to the platform without a ticket. Since I take the train every day I buy a monthly pass. If you occasionally take it, do yourself a favor and buy a 10 pack of tickets to have on hand. This way you do not have to always wait in the line for a ticket.

Bring something to occupy yourself

Unless you have someone to listen to other people’s conversations, you will want to have your headphones or a book handy. Whether it’s listening to music or your favorite podcasts, it will make the time go by. If music is not your forte, grab a book or magazine to read during your travels. Passing the time in any way is essential for a quick and painless ride, but you must make sure your paying attention to your stop.

Two-seater > Three-seater

If you are alone or with one other person, sit in a two-seater instead of a three-seater. Unless you want to be shoved and stuck against the window with two random strangers next to you, sit in the two-seater. It also makes it a nightmare to get out when it’s your stop because both people have to pick their stuff up and get out of the seat to let you out. When the train is not too crowded, you can put your bag on the seat next to you. Getting away with no one sitting next to you is the SEPTA dream.

Use the bathroom before you get on public transportation

Imagine you having to use the bathroom on a bumpy ride, and then you realize your bus or train has stopped moving. Unfortunately, there is no restroom on SEPTA bus, subway or train. Take my word for it, you do not want to learn this the hard way.


Next time you find yourself riding SEPTA, think back to these tips and I promise you will not regret it. You will be ready to take on anything a train ride may throw at you. So keep calm and SEPTA on. Safe travels my friends.

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