Every SEPTA rider knows the joys and pains of public transit in Philadelphia and its suburbs. For every trolley tunnel blitz, for every train delay, bus detour, or subway incident, we’ve quietly delighted in on-time arrivals, climate-controlled refuges, and a fellow passenger who gives up their seat to someone who needs to sit more.
But the entire SEPTA equation (and calculation) changes when you use a wheelchair. Our Mystery Shopper, a wheelchair user, rides the Broad Street Line from South Philly to Center City, and the Regional Rail from the city to the suburbs. How does it go? Read on.
BROAD STREET LINE
- Needing to go to a doctor’s appointment on Walnut Street, I take the Broad Street line from the Oregon stop in South Philly. I use the wheelchair accessible elevator to get on the train platform.
- At the Walnut-Locust station, the elevator is broken.
- I wave down a SEPTA employee for help. She wanders over after a few minutes and says the elevator could take a day to fix.
- I call an attendant I hire for daily tasks, and then wait 30 minutes for her to arrive.
- The attendant manually carries me and my wheelchair up the steps.
- I’m 40 minutes late for my doctor’s appointment.
Time spent: One hour
Result: Not able to complete my trip without outside help — and am late to appointment.
Lightning bolt rating: ⚡️
- To visit a friend in Hatboro, I take SEPTA’s Warminster Line from 30th Street Station. The elevator easily takes me down to the platform.
- The train stop in Hatboro has no elevator, so I am forced to ride to the next stop, Warminster.
- When the train arrives, the Regional Rail employee needed to put the wheelchair ramp down is nowhere to be seen.
- I do a weird jump thing with my wheelchair to bridge the giant gap between platform and train. This time, I’m successful, although sometimes the chair gets stuck.
- I take the elevator down to the station, where I meet my friend with an accessible van.
Time spent: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Lightning bolt rating: ⚡️⚡️Broad Street Line.