view of Philadelphia
30 Oct 2019

How to Get Around Philadelphia

How to get around Philadelphia

Quality transportation is essential to thriving in your city and experiencing all it has to offer. Dining at the new downtown restaurant, exploring a local park or finding a treasure at a quirky shop all begin with transportation. No matter where you want to go or how you’d like to get there, Philadelphia has an option for you. Choose from public transit, a variety of rideshare options, personal vehicles and public parking, local trails and plenty of sidewalks for walkability.

Much like New York City, Philly is laid out in a simple, rectangular grid pattern. Five public squares — known as Logan, Franklin, Washington, City Hall and Rittenhouse Squares — are dispersed among the city’s quadrants. These open green spaces provide scenic areas to rest while enjoying Center City.

The city’s layout, paired with its continual growth, means Philly’s transportation options are abundant. Here are some of the best ways to get around Philadelphia.

Navigating by Foot or Bike

If you’re looking for some exercise, Philadelphia’s streets are straightforward and pedestrian-friendly — in fact, the city frequently makes top 10 lists for being one of the “most walkable cities.” One of our top tips for navigating Philadelphia is simple — get to know the street naming system. Streets running east to west are named after trees, like chestnut or spruce, and north to south streets are sequentially-numbered. This system makes finding specific locations or getting your bearings quick and easy. If you take a stroll in Center City, you’ll find a variety of restaurants, shops, parks and more as you walk the streets. For some extra assistance, look to the directional signs posted in the street to help you navigate and find landmarks. The Center City District also employs personnel in the streets to help answer your questions and give directions.

For those looking to bike, Philly has both on- and off-road options. With hundreds of miles of bike lanes, it’s no wonder a recent U.S. Census showed an increase in Philly’s bike commuters. If you need to complete a leg of your journey by train, bus or trolley, you can! Philadelphia’s public transportation system is overall bike-friendly, with a few specifications for different modes of transit. Why not check a workout off your to-do list before you even arrive at work? Philly’s bike commuting accommodations make this possible.

navigating Philadelphia by foot or bike

In addition to bike lanes, Philadelphia is home to an extensive network of bike trails. Known as The Circuit Trails, these pathways encompass hundreds of miles throughout greater Pennsylvania. Several of these iconic trails wind through Philadelphia — including the Boardwalk, Cooper River, Forbidden Drive, Manayunk Bridge, Pennypack, Schuylkill Boardwalk and Schuylkill River Trails. This trail variety allows you to pick the perfect scenery and mileage for each ride. Find trails near your neighborhood to experience The Circuit for yourself.

Don’t have a bike? No problem! Philly’s Indego bikeshare initiative allows you to check out a bike 24/7/365. Launched in 2015, this program features more than 1,000 self-serve bikes at more than 130 stations around the city. Buy a pass online or visit an Indego kiosk to pay by credit card to secure your bike.

Indego offers a classic and electric bike option. Classic bikes are equipped with three gears, a large basket for storing personal items, adjustable seats as well as safety lights and reflectors. Electric bikes have the same features with the addition of a pedal-assist motor. Enjoy speeds of up to 17 miles per hour and use the extra assistance to conquer some hills. When finished, simply leave your bike at any Indego station around the city!

Walking and biking Philadelphia can be a great way to enjoy the city’s vibrant culture or complete daily errands. Wherever your day takes you, take advantage of Philly’s trails and walkways for some heart-healthy transportation.

Navigating by Bus, Train and Trolley

If you’re living in Philadelphia without a car, the public transportation system has you covered. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) includes a system of buses, trolleys, subways and a commuter rail with lines throughout the city.

Here’s an in-depth look at some of SEPTA’s transportation lines:

  • Broad Street Line: Also known as the Orange Line, the Broad Street Subway Line runs through the middle of Center City. This line connects Fern Rock Transportation Center with the NRG Station/Sports Complex, making it an excellent choice for anyone commuting or exploring in the heart of the city. This line also features Night Owl hours, making it a great choice for those enjoying Philadelphia’s nightlife. Given this route’s location, it serves many of the neighborhoods on either side of Broad Street.
  • Market-Frankford Line: The Blue Line subway runs along Market Street from Frankford Transportation Center up to the 69th Street Transportation Center. This line also features Night Owl hours. Neighborhoods served along this line include University City, the northern end of Rittenhouse Square, Market East, the Old City and Northern Liberties.
  • Norristown High Speed Line: The railroad track is known as the Purple Line, and it spans from Norristown Transportation Center to the 69th Street Transportation Center. Its location makes it a good choice for neighborhoods in northwestern Philadelphia.
  • Regional Rail: The Regional Rail system is an extensive commuter train service that includes stops to nearly every neighborhood in Philadelphia and beyond. This comprehensive line is a great choice for those looking to travel long distances within and outside of the Philly area.
  • Bus Lines: SEPTA runs numerous bus lines throughout Philadelphia. Covering a five-county radius, these routes were designed with stops that connect at nearby intersections, terminals, loops and transportation centers. The bus lines also feature several Night Owl lines, allowing you to travel both day and night.
  • Trolley Lines: The Subway-Surface Trolley Lines — also known as the Green Line — use street tracks through Market Street and throughout the northern and western sectors of Philadelphia. Three of the trolley lines also operate Night Owl hours. The trolley system serves neighborhoods in Northern and Western Philly.
  • PATCO Line: While not part of SEPTA, this train line runs through Center City and even continues east into southern New Jersey. This line intersects with the Market-Frankford Line in two places, allowing you to continue your journey across the Delaware River. The PATCO line runs through and is close to the Rittenhouse Square, Midtown Village, Market East and Old City neighborhoods.

To use any of the SEPTA transportation, you’ll need a SEPTA Key Card. You can load these chip cards with funds as necessary, or purchase a package with a set amount of rides.

SEPTA currently offers:

  • One Day Convenience Pass: This option allows eight rides.
  • Weekly TransPass: This option allows 56 rides.
  • Monthly TransPass: This option allows 240 rides.
  • Travel Wallet: This option allows you to add $5 to $250 to your card. Ride costs are deducted from your wallet each time you travel.

These passes are accepted on all SEPTA transportation except for the Regional Rail Line. The SEPTA Key Card is paperless and tokenless, making your commute seamless and environmentally friendly.

One final public transportation option within Philly is the PHLASH. These buses make continuous loops within downtown Philly to bring passengers to famous landmarks and popular attractions. Though tourist-focused, this system is free to any SEPTA Key Card holder. As a local, if you find yourself visiting an attraction along the PHLASH route, hop on and enjoy the free ride!

Philadelphia’s public transportation provides a convenient, comprehensive system for traveling around the city. Whether you’re visiting Philadelphia without a car, commuting or enjoying the city’s attractions, SEPTA has an option for you.

Navigating by Car

If you’re living in Philly with a car, you can enjoy the convenience of traveling on your own time. The price for this convenience is, of course, gas. Gas prices change frequently all across the United States, making it challenging to pin down which cities enjoy the lowest prices. However, according to GasBuddy, from 2015 to 2019, Philly’s average gas prices have dropped nearly $0.66.

With no limitations on where you can go in a personal vehicle, it’s helpful to understand what parking options you’ll have when you reach your destination.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) creates and monitors parking regulations for residential and commercial areas. In busy areas, this means you’ll either be using a parking meter or a parking garage. Public parking garages are scattered throughout the city, and they each have different prices and accommodations. Find a garage near your destination to eliminate stress and compare price rates.

If you’re looking for street parking in Center City, you’ll probably be using a parking meter. Most areas use standard single space meters that you can activate with coins. However, certain areas in Center City and University City feature parking meter kiosks.

navigating Philadelphia by car

These meter kiosks take coins, bills and credit cards, making them a convenient option for those who don’t want to carry pocket change. The kiosks also allow greater flexibility in the amount of time you can purchase. When you download the meterUP app, you can pay for your parking on your phone, add time to the meter from any location and get alerts that your parking is about to expire. Keep in mind that if you end up parking farther away from your destination than you planned, Philly is extremely walkable. Whether you get front-row parking or enjoy a longer stroll, you’ll be able to take in the city.

Another consideration for local drivers in Philadelphia is toll roads. Most local tolls only apply to drivers who are entering Pennsylvania. If you’ll be commuting outside the state for work or weekend travels, you may have to pay a $5 toll when you return. Philadelphia’s nearest toll road is the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which starts in the Old City neighborhood and spans the Delaware River. Frequent commuters who use this bridge may want to purchase a New Jersey E-ZPass to save on toll fees. The Delaware River Port Authority issues an $18 credit to New Jersey E-ZPass holders who make round-trip bridge commutes 18 or more times in one month.

No matter your destination, driving and parking in Philadelphia is simple when you understand your options.

Navigating by Taxi and Rideshare

If you’re looking to get around the city of Philadelphia quickly, taxi cabs and rideshare apps make great options. You’ll find taxis all over the city — simply hail one, and you’ll be on your way. Taxis are especially accessible near transportation hubs like the Philadelphia International Airport and the 30th Street Train Station.

For a ride at any time or location, download the Uber or Lyft apps. Once you make an account, you can use the apps to call a ride. These services function like taxis, with a few differences:

  • Uber and Lyft function solely from their apps.
  • The apps allow you to pick from a variety of car options.
  • The apps allow you to choose how full your car will be.
  • You can get a price estimate before your ride.

This tech-forward option allows you to customize your ride. Both Uber and Lyft have different ride options that are divided into categories by their price and amenities.

Navigate Philadelphia via ride sharing

Though each app gives these categories different names, here are the general details for an Uber or Lyft ride:

  • Standard economy: These options are typically the cheapest and can accommodate one to four people. “Pool” rides let you share the ride fare with someone heading the same direction as you, making them some of the least expensive.
  • Premium: Premium options tend to include sleeker cars and more professional drivers. These rides accommodate one to four people, and they cost more than economy options. If you’re traveling for business or a special occasion, premium may be for you.
  • Extra seats: If you’re traveling with a large group, an extra seat option may be best. These larger vehicles can fit up to six people, and they are usually available at an economy or premium price point.
  • Wheelchair accessible: When you need wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAV), this option will allow you to get to your destination safely. These rides typically accommodate one to four people.

If you’re planning to rideshare with the youngest members of your family, you’ll want to be sure to select and option that includes car seats. Another perk of these systems? If you need a ride to Philadelphia International Airport, Uber or Lyft can get you there and help you avoid paying for airport parking. When you’re ready to kick back and let someone else do the driving, Philly has options for you.

Want to Live Near Quality Transportation?

Philadelphia has the amenities of a booming city with the charm of a small neighborhood. Choosing how you’ll get around Philly is as simple as finding an option that fits your lifestyle.

At Streamline, we understand transportation is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to choosing your home. As a tech-enabled real estate company and leader in residential and urban development, we know there’s a lot that goes into choosing a place to live.

That’s why we’ve perfected the home-buying experience and eliminated the hassles of dealing with a middleman. The Streamline Experience uses groundbreaking virtual reality technology to help you visualize your dream home along every step of the building and purchasing process.

Contact us if you’re ready to make Philadelphia your home with Streamline.

make Philadelphia your home with Streamline