Trolley stations tend to be samey, so I’m combining these two into one post. This is the part of SEPTA where the El runs express in the center two tracks and the trolleys make these two local stops on the outer tracks, leading anyone passing through to think either, “Wow, thank goodness I’m on the El!” or “Man, I wish I was on the El.” As for anyone boarding at these stops? How about, “Geez, this station is terrible!”
Each station has four entrances, one on each corner of their respective intersection. Of the eight total entrances, six are just generic stairs going down into the ground. However, the two southern entrances at 19th Street are different: one is made of metal and glass, and the other is made of stone. But…they’re still just generic stairs going down into the ground when you get right down to it.
On October 1st, 2018, the westbound platforms at these stations got the new addition of turnstiles and fare machines. I came a little before that, so the turnstiles hadn’t been opened yet, but the setup was there: a few fare gates and one fare machine at each station. This is a great addition to these stops, especially because evening rush ridership here tends to be moderately high in the westbound direction. I can’t imagine how annoyingly long it would take for all those people to pay on board like they used to!
Despite generally getting more ridership than the eastbound direction, these westbound platforms are narrow! They both have few amenities other than a few benches and wastebaskets, and people tend to stand, anyway. The overall platform at 22nd is narrower than 19th, but 19th has a bunch of columns in the way (and I don’t think they serve much of a purpose, since 22nd gets away with not having them), plus these stairs and a ramp are needed to traverse the miniscule gap in height between the mezzanine and the platform. It shouldn’t have been built that way to begin with.
The eastbound platforms don’t tend to get quite as many people as the outbound ones, but still enough that I think it would be worth putting them into fare control as well. The one at 19th Street is similar to the westbound side, but at 22nd Street, the eastbound platform is huge! Finally, as I mentioned at the beginning, the El runs on the express tracks through these stations. It’s cool when they zoom by, but have fun not being able to hear for the next couple of weeks. Those trains, uh, get pretty loud…
Stations: 19th and 22nd Streets (Trolleys)
Ridership: As usual, SEPTA treats these stations like glorified bus stops, so there’s no public ridership info on them. From what I’ve noticed, they never tend to get too crowded, although I’ve seen some decent amounts of people during the evening rush.
Pros: I absolutely love this arrangement where the El expresses through while the trolleys make local stops. The nonstop ride from 15th to 30th on El trains is fast and exhilarating, while the trolley stops are spaced out enough that they don’t feel too annoying (unlike some awful parts of the eastern El – 15th to 13th to 11th? Really???). Also, this may feel minor, but the signage at these stations is actually really good! They point out which exits are best to get to certain attractions and direct people to look for similar signs at street level.
Cons: Fare gates on the westbound side is a great start, but can we finish the job and put them on the eastbound side too? For trolleys at the front of a bunch, there can be enough people waiting to get to City Hall that it’s a significant delay for everyone to tap on at the front. Other than that, these stations just feel cramped, like they’re not using their space very well. Granted, there’s not too much space to begin with, but I’m sure the narrow platforms can be unpleasant to wait at during rush hour.
Nearby and Noteworthy: A ton. 19th Street is close to Rittenhouse Square and its ritzy businesses, some of the museums on Ben Franklin Parkway, and the Comcast Center (go see their free Holiday Spectacular – it’s a ton of fun). 22nd Street, meanwhile, is the closest stop to the Mütter Museum (which I really need to visit someday), some other museums up on Ben Franklin Parkway, and the most crowded Trader Joe’s I’ve ever been to.
Final Verdict: 4/10
I essentially said in my 37th Street review that the base trolley station is a 3. That station made it up to a 4 by having a unique entrance shaped like a streetcar. For these stations, the only thing raising them up to a 4 is the fact that they have fare control. And even then, it’s only on one side! Heck, if I gave half-points, this would probably only be a 3.5! My only hope is that the significant dwell time improvements here will lead SEPTA to install fare gates at the West Philadelphia trolley stations, too. Please.
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