Connecting from Amtrak to Center City Philadelphia at 30th Street Station

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Is there still a free transfer for Amtrak passengers at 30th Street Station, does anyone know?
Here is the way it used to be (from a 2015 Amtrak timetable):
“Amtrak tickets to and from Philadelphia are honored for a transfer between 30th Street Station (Upper Level platforms) and either Penn Center-Suburban Station or Jefferson Station (Pennsylvania Convention Center) via the frequent commuter rail service operated by SEPTA. Your Amtrak ticket, ticket receipt or boarding pass must be presented to the SEPTA conductor and remain visible while on board. For additional details, call SEPTA at (215)580-7800.”
Last time I went through there, pre-pandemic, turnstiles had been installed for entry to the SEPTA Regional Rail platforms – but they were not yet operational. Now I hear paper tickets have been eliminated on SEPTA Regional Rail, and to pay the fare you tap on and tap off with a SEPTA Key Card. So do connecting Amtrak passengers still get the free transfer? If so, how does it work?
 

Oreius

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Yes. It still exists.

True. I always have a few hours to kill when I change trains there for my Florida trips. I’m 41 years old, and even so my Mom always tells me “Don’t you dare leave that (Philadelphia) station!!”
 
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Thanks very much for this link. Not sure I understand it all as yet, given the references both to "activating" and "validating" a ticket. I suppose I will be able to figure it out and get through the gate. The challenge will be doing so with aplomb. :)

SEPTA has always been very good about having staff at 30th Street and at Jefferson (used to be called Market East) at the entry/exit gates to help people with the new system, and I have found them friendly and eager to help —just ask any of them in uniform standing near the gates for help navigating the system.

I never got off at Suburban, the other Center City stop this applies to, but I would assume they would also have staff there to help.

I haven’t been to Philly since early 2020, though, so I don’t know if the staff has been reduced. But there should be somebody around to help, even if there aren’t as many staff as there used to be
 
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Did it. Made the free transfer from Amtrak to SEPTA Regional Rail at 30th Street Station, one stop to Suburban Station. Here is how it actually works: You go to the accessible fare gate (i.e., the wheelchair-accessible one), which is the only gate with scanner for Amtrak (or New Jersey Transit) bar codes. Scan in, check the board for next eastbound train, go upstairs to the platform for that track. At destination - surprise - find the accessible gate again to scan your way out.
 

John Santos

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Did it. Made the free transfer from Amtrak to SEPTA Regional Rail at 30th Street Station, one stop to Suburban Station. Here is how it actually works: You go to the accessible fare gate (i.e., the wheelchair-accessible one), which is the only gate with scanner for Amtrak (or New Jersey Transit) bar codes. Scan in, check the board for next eastbound train, go upstairs to the platform for that track. At destination - surprise - find the accessible gate again to scan your way out.
Thanks! I've travelled from Boston to Philly about a half dozen times and never figured out how to make this connection, and always paid the subway fare. (Well, the first time, I took a cab from 30th Street not knowing about the convenience of the subway.) I'm doing it again in about a month. I usually use Suburban Station (an odd name for a station in the heart of downtown), since it is only about 3 blocks from the hotel I usually stay at.
 

joelkfla

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I usually use Suburban Station (an odd name for a station in the heart of downtown), since it is only about 3 blocks from the hotel I usually stay at.
It's not named for it's location, but for the trains that stopped there.

From Wikipedia:
"The station opened as a stub-end terminal for Pennsylvania Railroad suburban commuter trains serving Center City Philadelphia, intended to replace the above-ground Broad Street Station in this function. PRR inter-city trains, on the other hand, would use Thirtieth Street Station."
 

Trollopian

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There's a related "Amtrak to SEPTA" thread at Amtrak to SEPTA? that I diligently bookmarked, 'cause I'm going to Philadelphia for the first time in four decades (!) this fall to see my great-nephew compete in a karate tourney. Yeah, yeah, you'll notice my profile identifies me as "bi-urban," DC and Pittsburgh. It's remarkable how unfamiliar most Pittsburghers are with Philadelphia, and vice versa.

SEPTA's website doesn't do a very clear job of explaining this, frankly. From Ways to Pay | SEPTA: "Amtrak paper tickets and e-Tickets, purchased for the same date of travel and presented for inspection, will be accepted as a fare to ride on Regional Rail trains between 30th Street Station and Jefferson Station. Customers with e-Ticket confirmations should present their personal device (iPad, laptop computer, smart phone, etc.) to the barcode reader located at the Wheelchair Accessible gate and the conductor on the train for visual confirmation of the Amtrak fare." Um, does that mean just those two stations, or every stop in between? Why so many mentions of "Suburban Station" and "Center City Station?" (As far as I can tell, "Center City" is a geographic area or zone, not a station name.) Guess I'll find out when my great-nephew kicks and chops his way to an even higher "dan" or black-belt level in November. Good kid.
 
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I don’t understand the “Center City station” reference either. I’d just ignore it.

The two “freebies” connecting from Amtrak at 30th Street are Suburban Station and Jefferson Station (which used to be called Market East and is nowhere near Jefferson hospital—they just threw money at SEPTA to get their name used). Very unlikely that anyone will look at your ticket on the train itself—they change crews at Suburban so are busy with that.

Suburban brings you out near City Hall and Macy’s.

Jefferson Station is at the convention center and across the street from Reading Terminal Market.

I prefer Jefferson because I always get lost in Suburban and always, always end up at the exit with a steep set of stairs to the street and can’t figure out where I am at the top. Jefferson is a bit easier for those like me with little sense of direction.😁

I hope you have a wonderful time in Philly! Make sure to take in the lovely main hall at 30th Street.

Also, if you have time, go to Macy’s to look at the Eagle, and look for Billy Penn standing at the top of City Hall looking out over the city (and maybe saying “I need a break—which way to Pittsburgh?”😁).
 
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There's a related "Amtrak to SEPTA" thread at Amtrak to SEPTA? that I diligently bookmarked, 'cause I'm going to Philadelphia for the first time in four decades (!) this fall to see my great-nephew compete in a karate tourney. Yeah, yeah, you'll notice my profile identifies me as "bi-urban," DC and Pittsburgh. It's remarkable how unfamiliar most Pittsburghers are with Philadelphia, and vice versa.

SEPTA's website doesn't do a very clear job of explaining this, frankly. From Ways to Pay | SEPTA: "Amtrak paper tickets and e-Tickets, purchased for the same date of travel and presented for inspection, will be accepted as a fare to ride on Regional Rail trains between 30th Street Station and Jefferson Station. Customers with e-Ticket confirmations should present their personal device (iPad, laptop computer, smart phone, etc.) to the barcode reader located at the Wheelchair Accessible gate and the conductor on the train for visual confirmation of the Amtrak fare." Um, does that mean just those two stations, or every stop in between? Why so many mentions of "Suburban Station" and "Center City Station?" (As far as I can tell, "Center City" is a geographic area or zone, not a station name.) Guess I'll find out when my great-nephew kicks and chops his way to an even higher "dan" or black-belt level in November. Good kid.

Answer to this post from me in the post right above—I forgot to insert the quote.
 
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There's a related "Amtrak to SEPTA" thread at Amtrak to SEPTA? that I diligently bookmarked, 'cause I'm going to Philadelphia for the first time in four decades (!) this fall to see my great-nephew compete in a karate tourney. Yeah, yeah, you'll notice my profile identifies me as "bi-urban," DC and Pittsburgh. It's remarkable how unfamiliar most Pittsburghers are with Philadelphia, and vice versa.

SEPTA's website doesn't do a very clear job of explaining this, frankly. From Ways to Pay | SEPTA: "Amtrak paper tickets and e-Tickets, purchased for the same date of travel and presented for inspection, will be accepted as a fare to ride on Regional Rail trains between 30th Street Station and Jefferson Station. Customers with e-Ticket confirmations should present their personal device (iPad, laptop computer, smart phone, etc.) to the barcode reader located at the Wheelchair Accessible gate and the conductor on the train for visual confirmation of the Amtrak fare." Um, does that mean just those two stations, or every stop in between? Why so many mentions of "Suburban Station" and "Center City Station?" (As far as I can tell, "Center City" is a geographic area or zone, not a station name.) Guess I'll find out when my great-nephew kicks and chops his way to an even higher "dan" or black-belt level in November. Good kid.
The Amtrak ticket covers SEPTA Regional Rail trains serving 30th St., Suburban Station, and Jefferson Station. Suburban and Jefferson Station are in Center City, which is what they call Downtown in Philly.

Basically, once you clear the fare gates with your Amtrak barcode, probably nobody will ask for a ticket until after the train leaves Jefferson. At least I've never had conductors checking tickets in all the years I've been doing this ride. You will then need to use the Amtrak barcode ticket to clear the fare gates when you exit at Suburban or Jefferson. The same thing in reverse when traveling from Center City back to 30th St.
 
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Thanks! I've travelled from Boston to Philly about a half dozen times and never figured out how to make this connection, and always paid the subway fare. (Well, the first time, I took a cab from 30th Street not knowing about the convenience of the subway.) I'm doing it again in about a month. I usually use Suburban Station (an odd name for a station in the heart of downtown), since it is only about 3 blocks from the hotel I usually stay at.
To be clear, "SEPTA Regional Rail" is a commuter rail system; it's not the "subway." You get to SEPTA Regional Rail (and the free transfer to either of two stations in Center City Philadelphia) by going up a ramp from a corner of the Amtrak 30th Street Station concourse. Alternatively, you can go outside, cross the street, and go down into the underground SEPTA transit station there for either the Market Street Subway or one of the trolley lines into Center City (or wherever you are going).

As already explained by a previous commenter, Suburban Station (a relic of the Pennsylvania Railroad, although it now serves the old Reading commuter lines as well) is so named because it has trains to the suburbs.
 

Trollopian

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The Amtrak ticket covers SEPTA Regional Rail trains serving 30th St., Suburban Station, and Jefferson Station. Suburban and Jefferson Station are in Center City, which is what they call Downtown in Philly.

Oh, you mean "dahntahn" in Pittsburghese?"Pittsburghese" Overview

Turns out that this isn't a big help to me, because the host hotel for the karate tourney is nearer the 2nd St. Station and a mile from Jefferson. (No sweat on a clear day without luggage. But less true in mid-November with luggage.) Thank you, MARC, and all who have written much clearer explanations than Amtrak's or SEPTA's!
 
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I've booked a day trip to Philadelphia less than 2 weeks from now and am curious about the Amtrak ticket scanners at Jefferson & 30th. In particular, does it read an 8.5"x11" printed ticket, the Ticketrax ticket, or a cell phone bar code? That might come in handy to get from a Philly cheesesteak place downtown back to 30th St to go home on #148.
 
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I've booked a day trip to Philadelphia less than 2 weeks from now and am curious about the Amtrak ticket scanners at Jefferson & 30th. In particular, does it read an 8.5"x11" printed ticket, the Ticketrax ticket, or a cell phone bar code? That might come in handy to get from a Philly cheesesteak place downtown back to 30th St to go home on #148.
The only decent cheesesteak place I know of that's near Jefferson or Suburban Stations is the one in Reading Terminal Market. (Forgot the name). There's also a good one that makes various lists of "the best of Philly" cheesesteak places on the 200 block of Market St. (Sonny's), but that would require paying money to ride the Market-Frankford Line from 30th St. Station to 2nd. St. Station. The other good Cheesesteak place in the vicinity of Center City is Jim's at 4th and South, but it is apparently temporarily closed due to a fire. Most of the "best of Philly" cheesesteak places listed on various culinary websites are not in Center City and a lot are not conveniently accessible by transit.
 
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I've booked a day trip to Philadelphia less than 2 weeks from now and am curious about the Amtrak ticket scanners at Jefferson & 30th. In particular, does it read an 8.5"x11" printed ticket, the Ticketrax ticket, or a cell phone bar code? That might come in handy to get from a Philly cheesesteak place downtown back to 30th St to go home on #148.
My understanding is that it will read any Amtrak bar code. If on your phone, they say "activate" it. I think that means turn it on.
 

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Thanks! I've travelled from Boston to Philly about a half dozen times and never figured out how to make this connection, and always paid the subway fare. (Well, the first time, I took a cab from 30th Street not knowing about the convenience of the subway.) I'm doing it again in about a month. I usually use Suburban Station (an odd name for a station in the heart of downtown), since it is only about 3 blocks from the hotel I usually stay at.
It's not a long walk either. Maybe 20-30 minutes and flat.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

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True. I always have a few hours to kill when I change trains there for my Florida trips. I’m 41 years old, and even so my Mom always tells me “Don’t you dare leave that (Philadelphia) station!!”

My wife and I took Amtrak to Philly a few years ago for our anniversary. We were late 40s at the time. I took a car to the Amtrak station and otherwise took Amtrak and then a taxi (Philly might have some union taxi drivers so I wanted to support them) to avoid Uber to the hotel that was downtownish. Then we took buses to the Zoo and on the last day we had some time to kill and took a street car to the west side of town. Subway to Phillies and walked a lot. I tried to support city transit the entire time. We took in every form of mass transit except the regional rail part of SEPTA. I imagine we were in some rough areas and maybe I am just very naive but I never felt unsafe. We were not out that much at night but we were some and walking around around the City Hall area back to the hotel, but not really late. After sunset but not 3 AM.
I did not stop and talk to homeless nor try to purchase drugs so no problems. There are some areas I likely would avoid in the city night or day but it is not that bad, and I am of northern European extraction and have a noticeable southern Appalachian Highlands accent so I will stick out as a non local if I talk. I never was scared of what was around me.
Amtrak was union, taxi might have been union, SEPTA was union and my hotel was union. The Phillies were union and the Zoo I assume was AFSCME union, along with some other sites we took in. I was one happy person to be around all of those union brother and sisters and was not letting a "rough" city stop my enjoyment.
 
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One of my cousins lives a few blocks from 30th Street Station in Center City and seems happy and safe enough (of course, she grew up in Chicago, on the south side, so she can handle it - anything urban really). Though I think it's gotten, like everywhere else, a bit more on edge lately.
 

Joe from PA

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Jefferson station used to be called Market East, because it is located on Market street east of city hall. Now it's called Jefferson so you have no idea where it is located. The official name of 30th Street Station is now the William H Gray Station. Although I've lived here since 1960, I have no idea of who he was.
 

Trollopian

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The official name of 30th Street Station is now the William H Gray Station. Although I've lived here since 1960, I have no idea of who he was.

Six-term Congressman from Philadelphia. Chaired the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Budget in the late 1980s, then became part of the House Democratic leadership, serving as Majority Whip (two rungs below Speaker). Might've eventually become Speaker himself but instead resigned to head the United Negro College Fund. Died in 2013 at just 71.

(I didn't hafta look up much of this, except the dates and length, because my federal career dealt with the budget.)
 
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