Getting There: The ISEPTAPHILLY Blog

How Do You Roll on SEPTA?

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For our March contest, we asked you how you spend your time on SEPTA. Whether it’s reading, knitting or catching up on your favorite show, the possibilities are endless when you leave the driving to SEPTA.

We received hundreds of entries and loved hearing your creative and smart ways to pass the time. It wasn't easy, but we picked one grand prize winner and ten runner-ups from the 207 contest entries. Below, read some of our favorite ways our riders roll on SEPTA:

I was coming home from a guitar shop one day because I had just gotten my mine fixed. Apparently, so did another young man that happened to be on the Market-Frankford Line with me. There were only 3 other people on the train at the time and when we spoke to them, they said they wouldn't mind. We ended up playing a few Hendrix classics among other things and started attracting a sizeable crowd of every creed and color. I have to say that was one of, if not the best experience I've ever had on public transportation!  – William

I spend my train ride from Philly to Trenton analyzing cancer research data. As a graduate student at Rutgers University, the SEPTA train I catch everyday provides the perfect atmosphere to go over my experiments and make conclusions. Some of the data I have analyzed during my commute has even been published. SEPTA is helping me get one step closer to curing childhood cancer!! – Fatu

As a single mom, I try to come up with the best inexpensive ways to educate my little one and much of that time is spent on SEPTA.  I try to teach him about the murals of the city and educate him about the places and buildings. He tells me the El is a magical train that flies through a whole new world with lots of different types of people and things and he loves it oh so much because it takes us to the very best places. When we go under the tunnel he says he thinks we're in water and looks for tiny baby fish outside the windows in awe.  If it wasn't for SEPTA we couldn’t get to the please touch museum  or downtown Philly  (we live in Langhorne Bucks County) he always tells the SEPTA operators to have a nice day (he's a little over 3) SEPTA time is imagination time for me and my little one and I enjoy the quality time with him. Raina

Being employed full time at a 9-5 with a hefty commute to and from work, it is rather difficult to find the time to write music for my extremely challenging original music career path. I use my time on the SEPTA Regional Rail to reflect and write my songs. It's become such a habit that I frequently ride the train on weekends, when I can afford it, just to write songs. It's one of the only places I can write now.  Chris

I'm a morning person and I don't drink coffee so I spend my time on SEPTA braiding my 7-year old twin daughters' hair while miming "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift with them so as not to disturb other passengers.  Kristin

When I ride on SEPTA, I always check my budget and then panic, so I then go online to search for better jobs. My only relief comes from the fact that I am saving money by riding the train. SEPTA saves me from my existential dread.  Martin

During the morning commute, on the MFL, I do 'wall squats' in between stops. I get in position as the train pulls out of the station, then stand as we pull into the next station. This continues as long as the train isn't too crowded. I do this at the area between the end door and the operator door. Sometimes it solicits strange looks from other riders but it’s good time management!! Rita Anne

Six days a week I take the Broad Street Line north to Temple University's Health Science campus.  I listen to music while cramming for every class and exam I may have that week or day.  I pull out flash cards, which I have on a big ring so they don't get lost, study from my phone, or use paper study guides.  On some occasions, I carry textbooks across the city and study straight from them.  Sometimes passengers ask me a bunch of questions about what I'm looking at, especially if its coronal brain sections in a neuroanatomy book.  Sometimes I will see classmates on the train and we will quiz each other on class material, but on good days, we ride home at the end of the semester and stop at a pub or restaurant in Center City on the way. Courtney

How I pass the time when riding SEPTA is teaching my 19 month-old daughter new words while on the bus and train to our destination. She loves looking out the window and seeing different people and exploring new things. Ashley

Trains have always been a means to access the wider world, to see faraway places and experience travel in new ways.  I often use my commute on SEPTA Regional Rail to not just dream of travel, but to actually plan it.  I am obsessive about vacation planning, using spreadsheets and databases, creating checklists and timelines.  Planning one day of a trip can involve weeks of work - you have to read about the possibilities, compare prices and companies, find meals and hotels, research crowds and wait times, etc.  It can seem overwhelming, but the end result of a well-planned trip is sooo worth it!  And my time on SEPTA makes it possible.  I can read travel books, browse websites on my phone, draw up maps and packing lists, and, most exciting for me, write various itineraries out, all without feeling guilty about wasting time.  Both my vacations and my commute are better as a result! Benjamin

I enjoy my time on the bus by talking and laughing with my "bus buddies".  These are people I've met and became friends with while riding the 28 bus each morning to work.  Rita, the cashier; George, the HS teacher, Brenda, publishing secretary, and at times the bus driver.  Frankly, it's anyone  in ear shot and who cares to join in the conversations.  Sometimes it serious and about what someone saw on the news the night before, but mostly it's light-hearted and lively.  One of our grandchildren, or something funny that happened in class.  Overall, it makes the ride go faster, and starts our morning off on a pleasant note.  It's always great to see them. – Valerie

The best part of riding on SEPTA is how many opportunities it opens up. Driving in a car in Philadelphia is fairly demanding; you have stop signs regularly, pedestrians jay walking, bicyclists switching from sidewalk to road, all of your attention is split among important stimuli. But driving in a bus, you can relax, stare out the window. And that's where my favorite part comes in. I actually get to notice things. Not only does the bus free me from the stress of driving, I get to notice new restaurants, stores, or even sometimes public events that I would likely never have seen while driving. This is further amplified by the fact that the bus takes routes I'd never take myself, opening up a whole new world of Philly. So I like taking SEPTA, not only for the convenience but because it's one of the most unique ways to truly explore the city. Richard

Thank you to everyone for their great ideas! Check out our contest page for your next chance to win a prize! Happy riding!

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