24-Hour Subway, 24-Hour City

SEPTA announced that it’s not yet bedtime for their 24-hour weekend subway service pilot program. Is this a step towards Philadelphia becoming a 24-hour city? If ridership remains high, the City of Brotherly Love may soon have a lot more nightlife to love.


Originally scheduled to end after Labor Day, SEPTA has extended the program through November 2nd. Making this service permanent would be a huge leap towards making Philadelphia an around-the-clock city, with both a booming daytime tourism industry and a happening after hours scene.


It would also put Philadelphia on par with Boston, which is also piloting 24-hour weekend service, and ahead of San Francisco and many European cities, including Paris, which lack 24-hour subways.


So far, Philadelphians have jumped at the opportunity to take the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines at all hours of the night. Ridership is up 50% during the extended hours, an indicator that the city’s late-night scene could grow substantially if the all-night service remains in place.


The presence of transit police on the trains during overnight hours has kept operations running smoothly, and no safety issues have been reported.


Late-night riders wait on the platform (left) and a poster (right) promoting the extended subway service. (Image courtesy of I SEPTA Philly)


The true test will be running the pilot between Labor Day and November 2nd, when the summer heat fades and universities are back in session. If ridership holds strong, proving that the extended service is financially feasible, SEPTA will consider running 24-hour weekend service beyond the pilot’s conclusion.


So go for that late-night screening, secret DJ set, or last call at your favorite bar—if you play the night owl, the City may follow your lead!


Opening image courtesy of Andrew Bossi.

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