Quick Overview

Philadelphia has one of the most diverse transit system in the country, with a mixture of subway/EL, streetcars/trolleys, light rail, regional commuter trains, trackless trolley/trolley busses, and regular busses.  There are two subway lines, eight (8) trolley lines, one light rail line, 13 commuter lines, two operating trackless trolley lines, and way too many bus routes to count.

If you are a transit fan, there is more than enough in Philadelphia to keep you busy for several days, you will not be disappointed.

And to boot, if you are a senior, you can ride everything for free, all you need to do is stop by one of their centers and apply for an ID card, which you can get on the spot!

Regional Rail Service (Commuter Rail)

Note: the route numbers are provided for "historical" reference only, as SEPTA discontinued their use as of November 2010.  They have also changed the destinations slightly, as (for instance), the R2 line which used to run from Warminster on the northside, to Wilmington and Newark DE on the southside, and has split it up into two slightly overlapping routes.  Some of the routes now end at 30th Street Station, others will end at either Suburban Station or Temple University depending on their direction coming into 30th St.  Thanks to the guys on Yahoo's Philly Traction group for the info.

 Airport Line - PHL Airport - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 Warminster Line - Warminster PA - Center City/30th St - University City

 Wilmington / Newark Line - Newark/Wilmington DE - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 W Trenton Line - W Trenton NJ - Center City/30th St - University City

 Media / Elwyn Line - Elwyn PA - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 Lansdale / Doylestown Line - Doylestown PA - Center City/30th St

 Paoli / Thorndale Line - Thorndale PA - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 Cynwyd Line - Cynwyd PA - Center City/30th St - Suburban Station

 Manayunk / Norristown Line - Norristown PA - Center City/30th St

 Trenton Line - Trenton NJ - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 Chestnut Hill East Line - Chestnut Hill PA - Center City/30th St

 Chestnut Hill West Line - Chestnut Hill PA - Center City/30th St - Temple University

 Fox Chase Line - Fox Chase PA - Center City/30th St

Streetcar / Light Rail Lines

Philadelphia, as of today, only has one legitimate light rail line, the Norristown High Speed line.  It differs in a couple of respects however:  The line uses third rail for its power as opposed to a traditional overhead catenary system, and it operates most of the time with only single car sets.

The remainder of SEPTA's system still uses streetcars, and the Kawasaki's used are basically updated PCC cars (yes, I know that is redundant).  Interestingly, the streetcar fleet is made up of two power collection methods.  The Route 101 and 102 lines use pantographs, and the subway surface lines use trolley poles.  Additionally, the 101 and 102 cars are double ended because there are no loops on the end of either line.

FYI, back in the early 80's when Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia were looking at replacing their aging fleets, Philadelphia decided not to go along with Boston and San Francisco in their decision to buy the Boeing/Vertol cars.  The Boeing cars had to be taken out of service after 3 or 4 years, while 30+ years later, the Kawasaki's are still going strong!  It turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in transit history.

The Surface Subway lines run underground from the 13th St/Juniper station to the 40th Street Portal, except for the #10 Line, which comes above ground at 36th and Ludlow Streets, 5 or 6 blocks from the 30th Street Station.  The underground portion parallels the Market-Frankford Subway line from 33rd St east.

 Surface Subway - Overbrook to Center City - ends at 63rd St and Malvern Ave

 Surface Subway - DTC to Center City - ends at the Darby Transportation Center

 Surface Subway - Yeadon / DTC to Center City - Norristown

 the Girard Ave Streetcar Line - Haddington to Port Richmond -
63rd St and Girard to Richmond and Westmoreland Streets, uses the rebuilt PCC cars

 Surface Subway - Angora to Center City - ends at 61st St and Baltimore Ave

 Surface Subway - Eastwick to Center City - ends at the Eastwick Loop on Island Ave

 Norristown Light Rail Line - Norristown Transportation Center - 69th St Transportation Center

 Media Streetcar Line - Media - 69th St Transportation Center

 Sharon Hill Streetcar Line - Sharon Hill - 69th St Transportation Center


Yards and service facilities for the 100, 101, and 102 lines are adjacent to the 69th St Transportation Center, see my map for 69th St.

The #10 and #15  lines are serviced at the Callowhill facility, located at Callowhill and 59th Streets.

The other lines are serviced from the Elmwood shops at Elmwood and Island Avenues.

The #11 line crosses the CSX at Main and 6th Streets in Darby, something only seen in one or two other places in the U.S.

Photo ops for streetcars are too numerous for this page, I will try to point out some of the better ones on the pages for each section.

Subway / EL / Heavy Rail Lines

Philadelphia has three heavy rail lines, the Market-Frankford line, the Broad Street Line, and PATCO, which is the only major non SEPTA transit system in Philly, if you don't count the numerous local transit companies.

Many Philadelphians prefer using the term "EL" instead of line, so it becomes the market-Frankford EL.

There has been talk about extending the lines, but nothing has happened beyond that stage, so far.

Below is a map of just the heavy rail service of Philadelphia that I modified from the standard issue SEPTA map.

SEPTA's PDF map, shows all the stations and destinations, but no longer the old R2, R5, etc type designations (a sad loss).
I have updated the map to reflect the naming practice for the former Pattison station on the Broad St Line, now NRG.

Other SEPTA maps and info found......


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


NEW 08/08/2007, 08/16/2016
Last Updated: 01-Oct-2021