SEPTA announces bus route changes for papal visit, still has regional rail passes available

We know what you’ve been thinking. “Hey, it’s been, like, two days since I saw a new papal visit map! What gives?”

Have no fear, dear reader: SEPTA’s got you.

At a hastily called press conference today, General Manager Joseph Casey repeatedly emphasized that SEPTA would be able to drop off passengers very close to the secured areas where Pope Francis is planned to speak: Independence Mall on Saturday afternoon and The Ben Franklin Parkway Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The map below shows walking distances from the regional rail, trolley and subway stations that will be open that weekend.

    • SEPTA Bus Routes and walking distances
      SEPTA Bus Routes and walking distances

The transit authority also revealed plans for its bus routes for that weekend, which will see increased, weekday-level service on some routes, truncated routes, and some lines suspended altogether. For up-to-date service and fare information, SEPTA has a special papal visit page on its website, here.

Casey also noted that around 240,000 papal visit passes are still available on its regional rail lines.

SEPTA has sold 110,000 One Day Regional Rail passes to date: 50,000 for Saturday, Sept. 26th and 60,000 for Sunday, Sept. 27th. SEPTA made 175,000 passes available for each day. Regional Rail trains will run express services from 18 select stations over the weekend. Riders will need a special papal pass to ride the regional rail that weekend; regular fares will not be accepted.

SEPTA had created a lottery for the regional rail passes, expecting huge demand after an initial attempt to sell them online ended with a crashed website unable to handle the amount of traffic the sale generated early on. But that lottery was undersubscribed, leaving thousands of passes still available.

Those passes are available for purchase at those stations, or a station nearby in the case of stations that do not have ticket counters. Ticket sale locations and other information are available on SEPTA’s website, here.

SEPTA is also selling special passes for the Norristown High Speed Line and the 101 and 102 trollies. Like the regional rail, these passes were initially offered via a lottery, which was undersubscribed. NHSL and 101/102 Route passes are available for purchase at 69th Street Station.

Inside the city, many bus routes are being suspended or detoured due to the traffic box, which has been rechristened the “Francis Festival Grounds.” Twenty-eight city and suburban routes are suspended for the weekend, plus the 10 trolley. Those routes are listed below.

Additionally, a number of routes will operate with regular weekend schedules, meaning increased frequency compared to a usual weekend, as will Trolley Routes 11, 13, 14, 15, 34 and 36.

Notably, southbound Routes 2, 33, 23 and 47 will truncate at Broad and Cecil B. Moore Streets, allowing passengers to then transfer to the Broad Street Line to continue further on to the Walnut-Locust street station. 

    • SEPTA Bus service during papal visit
      SEPTA Bus service during papal visit
    • SEPTA Bus Routes and walking distances
      SEPTA Bus Routes and walking distances
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About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's transportation reporter, which means he focuses on how Philly bikes, walks, drives, rolls, and rides around the region. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate, Philadelphia City Paper, and Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at

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