How Sixers’ new arena plan can put SEPTA, public transit to use

A big selling point for those in favor of the Sixers’ recently-unveiled plan to put a new arena in Center City is the overwhelming number of public transit options mere feet away from the entrances.

And it’s true! Philadelphia isn’t known for overwhelmingly robust public transit, but the intersection of 11th & Market is potentially the most transit-available intersection in the city. Between subway lines, train lines, and bus routes it couldn’t be easier to get to 11th & Market, one of the corners the Sixers are planning to abscond with to create 76 Place.

The question, of course, is how public transit would hold up to the likely increased volume considering driving into Center City and finding parking seems significantly less palatable than driving to the Stadium Complex.

MORE: Why the Sixers’ new arena plan has fans so torn

SEPTA has been in contact with the Sixers ahead of this announcement, and the transit authority sounds ready.

“Yes, the Sixers have been in touch with SEPTA regarding their plans for the new arena,” SEPTA Director of Media Relations Andrew Busch told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with the team, the city and other stakeholders moving forward.”

Busch cited the arena’s proximity to SEPTA’s numerous transit options – subways, regional rail, trolleys, and bus routes – and pointed to the transit authority’s ability to accommodate added volume during the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade, the Pope’s visit, the NFL Draft, the DNC, and more.

 

“We are confident that SEPTA will be ready to serve this exciting new venue, and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders moving forward,” Busch said.

Whether you’re already a regular public transit rider, someone who uses it occasionally, or a person who doesn’t use it and is afraid of how moving the Sixers to Center City will affect your ability to see a game, it’s a good idea to get familiar.

 

(This all comes with the knowledge that things will likely change in the next nine years, but humor us, will ya?) 

Let’s take a look at all the currently-available ways to commute to not-currently-available 76 Place:

SEPTA Subway + Trolley

Either of the SEPTA subway lines would be an excellent transit option for attending a Sixers game at 76 Place for anyone living even remotely close to their stops.

The new arena would sit directly on Market Street, making any of the Market Frankford Line stops from City Hall to 8th Street a sub-10 minute walk to the arena. It would be ideal. 

Getting from the farthest West stop on the Market Frankford Line, 69th Street, to the 13th Street stop is a 16-minute ride, while getting from the farthest East stop on the Market Frankford Line, the Frankford Transportation Center, to the 11th Street stop is a 26-minute ride.

During the week Market Frankford Line trains run at six-minute intervals throughout the middle of the day, then every 12 minutes until 11:30 p.m., and then every 15 minutes until 12:30 a.m.

The Broad Street Line would also be particularly useful to reach 76 Place because its free interchange at City Hall allows you to ride the Market Frankford Line in either direction. The Broad Street Line also has its own sub-10 minute walks to the arena from the subway line’s Walnut-Locust, City Hall, and Race-Vine stations.

Getting from the farthest North stop on the Broad Street Line, Fern Rock Transportation Center, to the City Hall station is a 30-minute ride, while getting from the farthest South stop on the Broad Street Line, NRG Station, is a 12-minute ride.

During the week local Broad Street Line trains run at eight-minute intervals throughout the day until 6:30 p.m., then at 12-minute intervals until just after midnight.

SEPTA also runs its Night Owl bus services along the Market Frankford Line, which picks up every 15 minutes at City Hall starting when train service ends, and does the same for the Broad Street Line.

And then you have the trolley lines which reach out into Delaware County to the Southwest and Overbrook Park to the Northwest. The trolley lines have free interchanges with the Market Frankford Line at the 30th, 15th, and 13th Street stations and also pedestrian connections at 30th Street and 15th Street stations.

Here’s a look at the number of return trips (as of now) that depart after 9:40 p.m., assuming a Sixers game ends around 9:30 p.m. and you can bust it over to 13th & Market in 10 minutes:

 

  • 10/63rd & Malvern: 6
  • 11/Darby Transportation Center: 5
  • 13/Yeadon: 6
  • 34/61st & Baltimore: 8, if you count 9:42 p.m.
  • 36/80th & Eastwick: 8, if you count 9:43 p.m.

SEPTA Regional Rail

SEPTA’s Regional Rail reaches all throughout the surrounding suburban areas and even crosses county and state lines, hitting places like Media, Trenton, Wilmington, Norristown, and more.

The question, of course, is how usable the lines are after a game in terms of being able to get home to those areas.

Here’s a look at the number of return trips (as of now) that depart after 9:40 p.m., assuming a Sixers game ends around 9:30 p.m. and you can bust it over to Jefferson Station in 10 minutes (which is being generous):

  • Airport: 5
  • Chestnut Hill East: 3
  • Chestnut Hill West: 1, if you count 9:43 p.m.
  • Fox Chase: 0
  • Glenside: 5
  • Lansdale/Doylestown: 2
  • Manayunk/Norristown: 2
  • Media/Elwyn: 2
  • Paoli/Thorndale: 3, if you count 9:46 p.m.
  • Trenton: 2
  • Warminster: 2
  • West Trenton: 1
  • Wilmington: 1

Often the final train out of Jefferson Station on these lines doesn’t depart until after 11 p.m., pretty late if you’re trying to attend a game on a weeknight and then head home at a reasonable hour. 

I’d imagine SEPTA and the Sixers would work together on providing supplemental service during Sixers season, or at least when the team is playing a home game, much the way SEPTA’s Broad Street Line service typically has trains waiting at NRG Station when Sixers, Phillies, Flyers, and Eagles games end.

SEPTA Bus

SEPTA’s bus routes are one of the most specific transit options around the city. They’re everywhere! There are dozens and dozens of bus routes that will take you within blocks of the proposed 76 Place site.

Here’s a list of just the routes that can drop you off within three blocks of the theoretical arena:

  • 4
  • 9
  • 12
  • 17
  • 21
  • 23
  • 27
  • 33
  • 38
  • 42
  • 44
  • 45
  • 48
  • 61
  • 62
  • 78
  • 124
  • 125

That’s a lot of bus routes.

PATCO

For those not in the know, PATCO stands for Port Authority Transit Corporation and it connects a very immediate part of South Jersey to Philadelphia, from Philly’s City Hall out to Lindenwold.

Here’s the transit corp’s very simple map:

Every PATCO station has a bike rack, and seven of the stations in New Jersey have parking which means Sixers fans heading to games at 76 Place would be able to park-and-ride.

As currently constructed, the two closest PATCO stops to 76 Place would be the 9/10th & Locust Street Station stop and the 12/13th & Locust Street Station stop. The 9/10th stop would be an 11-minute walk to an ostensible 12th & Market Street entrance, while the 12/13th stop would be a nine-minute walk to the same spot.

Assuming a Sixers game that begins at 7 p.m. will be over by 9:30 p.m. and that fans will stay for the whole game, there are three realistic weekday trains fans could catch heading back East to New Jersey from either the 9/10th or 12/13th stops: one leaving at 10:02 p.m., one leaving at 10:42 p.m., and one leaving at 11:22 p.m. On Saturdays there are also three realistic trains fans could catch leaving at about the same times. On Sundays there are two realistic trains fans could catch.

PATCO says it takes less than half an hour to get from one end of the transit corp’s line to the other.

 

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