Navigating Philadelphia’s Public Transport System: A Renter’s Guide

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Philadelphia is famous not just for its pivotal role in American history and its dynamic cultural scene, but also for its comprehensive public transport network. For renters in Philadelphia, the advantages of leveraging this system are manifold, enhancing not only the convenience of daily life but also enriching the overall urban living experience. The public transport in Philadelphia eases commutes, reduces the necessity for personal vehicles, and fosters connectivity among the diverse and sprawling neighborhoods of the city, making it an indispensable tool for city dwellers.

Are you a seasoned renter here or considering a change and looking for apartments for rent in Philadelphia? Either way, getting to know the ins and outs of public transit in Philly is key. The city offers a range of transport methods that make getting around both convenient and straightforward. Whether you’re commuting, exploring, or just out and about, the public transport system in Philadelphia can save you time and hassle.

In this guide, we’ll show you how using Philadelphia’s public transit can help you get around town faster and with less hassle, making your life as a renter a whole lot easier.

What are the main modes of public transport in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia’s top-notch transit system is the ideal way to navigate the city. SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) offers a widely accessible and bike-friendly network of buses, subways, and commuter rails, making it one of the most extensive in the United States. For renters, this means easy and affordable access to all parts of the city without the need for a car.


SEPTA buses run pretty much everywhere in Philly, so you don’t need a car to get around. With over 120 bus routes crisscrossing the city and its suburbs, these buses connect you to not only major employment hubs but also to residential areas, shopping centers, schools, and hospitals. On the main routes, SEPTA buses show up every few minutes during rush hour, so you’re not stuck waiting forever. Plus, you can plan your day without worrying about a tight schedule.

Additionally, SEPTA’s bus service is integrated with other modes of public transport in the city, such as the subway and trolley systems. This means you can hop from one to the other without buying a new ticket each time. SEPTA also offers a real-time tracking service through their app, which helps riders plan their journeys more effectively by providing up-to-date arrival and departure times. So, for renters looking to maximize their mobility without the costs and responsibilities of owning a car, SEPTA buses offer a convenient and eco-friendly solution for traveling.

Subway: The Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line

The Philadelphia subway system includes the Broad Street Line and the Market-Frankford Line. These two lines are key to the city’s public transportation, stretching through major urban areas. They provide crucial links for people living in the far north and south, taking them directly to the busy downtown area and beyond. This network makes it easy to get almost anywhere in Philadelphia by public transit, which is great for getting to work, school, or entertainment spots efficiently.


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Riding the subway is especially helpful during rush hour when the streets are packed with cars. For renters who want to save time, the subway is a fast, reliable option that often avoids traffic jams and cuts down on travel time. Both the Broad Street Line and the Market-Frankford Line offer modern features like clear signs and updated train cars, making the commute more pleasant.


Trolleys offer a scenic and efficient mode of public transportation in Philadelphia, serving several high-traffic areas across the city. The trolley routes are designed not just as a nod to the city’s historical past but as a key component of modern public transport in Philadelphia. They are particularly useful for renters in West Philadelphia and downtown, offering frequent and dependable service that connects them swiftly to a variety of destinations.


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The trolley system connects major streets and other types of public transit in Philly, enhancing its overall functionality. For instance, routes on Baltimore Avenue, Girard Avenue, and those that run through the city center make it easy to reach cultural spots, universities, and business areas. But what truly sets the trolley rides apart is the experience they offer: The cars blend modern and traditional designs, providing a ride that’s both comfortable and quaintly historic. They also feature modern perks like electronic payment systems and real-time tracking, accessible via Philadelphia’s public transit apps.

Regional Rail

SEPTA’s Regional Rail is a real game-changer for renters living on the outskirts of Philadelphia. It connects the quiet suburbs with the bustling city center, making it perfect for renters who work downtown but love the calm of suburban life. The Regional Rail reaches important suburban spots like Doylestown, West Chester, and even parts of New Jersey. This means you can easily and quickly get to the city, even from far away.

The Regional Rail runs on a schedule that fits the typical workday, with more trains during the busy morning and evening rush hours. This cuts down on waiting and makes your daily commute smooth and predictable.  Also, the Regional Rail is a smart option if you want to skip the stress and expense of driving every day. The stations are well-kept, with plenty of parking and easy connections to other SEPTA services like buses and trolleys, making it easy to mix and match your commute.

PATCO Speedline

The PATCO Speedline is a key transit link for those traveling between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, efficiently covering this wide area. It’s a great choice for anyone regularly crossing state lines, whether they live in New Jersey and work in downtown Philly or the other way around. The Speedline starts at 15th-16th and Locust in Philadelphia and runs all the way to Lindenwold, NJ, with stops in commuter hotspots like Camden, Collingswood, and Haddonfield.

Thanks to its dedicated tracks and express service options, the PATCO Speedline avoids the common traffic delays associated with road travel, providing a fast, predictable commute. the PATCO Speedline skips the usual traffic jams, providing a quick and predictable trip. Trains run around the clock, with more frequent service during the morning and evening peak times. This reliability is great whether you’re going to work, returning home late, or setting out for a weekend adventure across the Delaware River.


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Getting familiar with Philadelphia’s public transport can really improve your daily life if you’re renting in this great city. With a variety of options like buses, subways, trolleys, and regional rails, the system is designed to meet the needs of many people and can take you all around the city and beyond.

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Veronica Grecu is a senior creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With more than 10 years of experience in the real estate industry, she covers a variety of topics in residential and commercial real estate, including trends and industry news. Previously, she was involved in producing content for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and Yardi Matrix. Veronica’s academic background includes a B.A. in Applied Modern Languages and an M.A. in Advertising and PR.

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