Transportation Ideas for the Papal Mass in Philadelphia

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

by Elizabeth A. Elliott

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If you’re one of the nearly 1.5 million visitors expected to descend upon Philadelphia for the papal Mass Sept. 27 you may have questions on transportation during the event. Following is a summary of the latest transportation news.

An area described as a "traffic box" will be designated in the center city starting 6 p.m. (Eastern time) Sept. 25. How long it will be in effect after the end of the papal Mass Sept. 27 has not been determined, according to a report from Catholic News Service, but it is likely to go into Sept. 28, depending on the number of people leaving the area of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

If you’re in the traffic box already you can drive within the area, but won’t be allowed back if you leave.

Right now there are no restricted areas for bicyclists, or pedestrians. Bicyclists and pedestrians can travel within the traffic box without any trouble. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has posted a papal visit bike map. PopeRide, the idea of Alexandria Schneider, is also coordinating a ride to take advantage of the closed streets. The ride will take place Sept. 26 starting at 10:00 a.m. and leave from the 30th Street Station. A map is available at the registration page on Facebook.

One Day Regional Rail passes will be sold face-to-face at stations open during the visit beginning Aug. 21 and go through Sept. 24 as long as passes are available. As of Aug. 21 some 20,000 passes were still available from the online lottery SEPTA ran earlier this month. People can purchase up to 10 tickets for each day for $10 each. You must travel out of the same designated station that will be stamped on the back of your ticket. Special passes are also available for those traveling from New Jersey on PATCO. New Jersey transit will offer limited special service on its Atlantic City Rail and River Line.

Registered buses will be allowed to restrict the highways during the pope’s visit. RYDE, a crowd sourced rideshare transportation company, is in talks with GO GROUND, the official transportation management company for the World Meeting of Families, to register buses for riders on the East Coast. The goal is to get riders as close as possible to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, though there will still be a few miles to walk for the events are being held. Tickets prices vary according to your starting point: A ride from Washington, D.C. is $89; from Durham, N.C., it’s $139. A bus leaving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Philadelphia will run you $1,795. 

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