For Public Transportation Newbies

by Jasmin Ramirez on March 29, 2018

In Florida, there is plenty of sunshine, heat, and beaches. Some may want to add old people. I never realized until I came here that Florida is looked at as the “Retirement State.” I find it funny that I now see the label come alive when I visit home.

No matter your plans, the most important thing is to get out of your dorm and discover Philadelphia.

- Jasmin Ramirez

What you won’t find, for the most part, are trains, subways, or heavy reliance on public transportation. I may not be from a major city, but even in Orlando and Miami, there aren’t any long trains passing over the highways.

Being from Florida, I take a lot of visits to the Philadelphia Airport. Before I discovered the train, I contributed a great deal of money to Uber. During my fall semester, I swear that company was set for years with the amount of money I invested in Uber rides.

Here is what I learned: You can take a train from the Glenside Station directly to the airport. You won’t have to exit the train until you have reached your final destination, which is very efficient.

Now, I’m a public transit aficionado. The trains may seem scary and gritty, but once you know the tips and tricks to get to your destination, it won’t feel so intimidating. So these are for my fellow public transportation newbies:

  1. It’s pretty much common sense: Travel with a friend, whenever possible. Safety reasons aside, it also makes time go by quicker— although it’s only a 25-minute ride to Center City Philadelphia from Glenside on SEPTA Regional Rail. Usually the first car is designated as the “Quiet Ride” until 7 p.m., so if you bring a friend, sit in a car where you can chat freely.
  2. If the departure time is 12:05 p.m., this means that the train really is LEAVING at 12:05 p.m. So if you think that you can slide in a minute or two late, wave goodbye to the train as it rolls down the tracks. Give yourself plenty of time to be sure you’re on the right side of the tracks (going or coming) and to buy your ticket. Download the SEPTA app, which gives the arrival and departure times to the second and shows if trains are running late.
  3. Avoid sitting by the exit doors, especially during the winter. This may sound odd, since you’ll want to get out and beat the pack as quickly as possible. But the cold hits every time the train doors open. I also realized that at stops, when the door opens for people to exit, someone can easily snatch your purse or bag and run out with it.
  4. This one will save you a few bucks: The smartest choice when taking the train is to get the Independence Pass for $13. The pass allows you to get on and off transit wherever you go, whenever you’d like. For me, the pass means the sky's the limit. It’s really convenient.

When I splurge on an Independence Pass, I like to pack in as much sightseeing and restaurant-touring as possible. I tend to start off and linger around the Rittenhouse Square area. It’s very scenic, so you can get some A1 pictures for Instagram. If you find yourself in Rittenhouse, you’ll regret not stopping by Hip City Veg, a vegan hotspot with the best burgers and sweet potato fries, hands down. Their “secret sauce” is really just vegan chipotle mayo, but since the food is so unbelievably good, “secret sauce” sounds cooler. I am the only vegan in my group of friends, but they all love it!

Or, if you’re craving some bomb pizza, check out Slice. It is located on a Rittenhouse sidestreet,  which may sound sketchy, but I promise is worthwhile.

Jump back on public transit for an outing to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Here, you’ll find amazing art pieces and breathtaking atmosphere.

Subways and buses can get you to a number of neighborhoods that host Escape Rooms, which include obstacle courses and riddles for you to solve and try to “escape” through. This is the ultimate roommate bonding experience!

But no matter your plans, the most important thing is to get out of your dorm and discover Philadelphia.  There’s no excuse not to. Public transit can get you almost anywhere.