Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

PA: SEPTA Announces Start of Weekend Overnight Subway Pilot

SEPTA will launch a pilot program to offer 24-hour weekend service on the Broad Street and Market Frankford Lines with the start of summer transit schedules at 12:01 a.m. on June 15. This initiative is aimed at accommodating the demand for subway service among late night riders on Fridays and Saturdays.

Trains will replace Nite Owl buses on weekends and holidays, including July Fourth and Labor Day. Buses will continue to operate Nite Owl service on weekdays. The service pilot will be in effect through the Labor Day Weekend for the “Made in America” festival. Other operational changes will include:

  • SEPTA cashiers will staff major hubs and high ridership stations overnight on both lines. Where a cashier is present, riders will pay at the entrance gate.
  • At unstaffed locations, signage will direct passengers through turnstiles to the Owl boarding location, where they will pay fares to the train operator at the head of the train before entering the train.
  • Operators will accept exact cash fares, tokens, and passes. They will sell transfers, but will not give out change.
  • Trains will run every 20 minutes between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Arrival times at the City Hall/15th Street Stations will be staggered by 10 minutes to accommodate transfers.
  • Extra SEPTA police officers will be deployed to provide an enhanced level of security
  • A passenger guide with additional information and tips for riding is available online

SEPTA replaced overnight train service with buses in 1991 due to low ridership, and to allow a regular window for safety and maintenance tasks to be performed.

“Philadelphia has changed since that time,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “Now with all of the restaurants, increased late-night activity, and people moving back into the city, we’re excited to be able to provide this service that city, business leaders, and customers have been asking us for.”

Nearly 10,000 riders currently use the Nite Owl bus service on weekends. SEPTA’s staff will evaluate ridership, staffing costs, overall security, and other factors to determine whether 24-hour weekend subway service will continue beyond the pilot program.

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