I refuse to review the 15 trolley until (if?) the full line gets restored out to Richmond-Westmoreland. However, I still wanted to ride the whole thing as it currently operates just to say I’ve done it, and from the western end of the line, there’s really nowhere to go except a few blocks south to Market Street. Time to check out the station I used upon my arrival, 63rd Street!
I love the way that all the West Philly El stations show the station’s name on either side of the tracks. It looks fantastic, and it’s a simple way of pointing out “Hey, there’s a SEPTA station here.” Well…aside from the fact that…I mean, it’s an elevated station, so…okay, it’s really obvious there’s a SEPTA station there. But that number on the side still looks great!
Three out of the four staircases here are exit-only. Sure, it’s a little annoying, but we are near the end of the line so it’s not something I can be too upset about. Plus, the artwork on the two western exits looks fantastic. There are two bus connections here, the 21 and the 31. Since the 21 originates at 69th Street (a much bigger hub), it doesn’t get a ton of ridership from here, but the westbound 31 towards 76th-City does pick up a decent number of passengers at 63rd, since this is its last connection to the El. We’ve got nothing more than signs for the bus stops, but I get the feeling shelters aren’t super needed here – maybe one for the westbound 31.
Thus, we reach the fourth entrance, which is actually an entrance. It gets a sheltered portion at street level, while some artwork-laden stairs make their way up to the station’s mezzanine. Sadly, while an upward escalator shows up for the second flight, there’s nothing on the first. This station is accessible, though, with a single elevator that takes passengers up to the unpaid mezzanine, as well as from the paid platform to the footbridge. Talk about efficiency!
I often harp on SEPTA mezzanines for being too low-capacity, and this one definitely is – it has only two fare machines and four fare gates. But I’m going to give 63rd Street a pass, since it doesn’t get a ton of ridership, and there doesn’t seem to be space for more gates. Sure, you could take out an emergency exit and fit in two or three more, but…the emergency exit is probably there for a reason. Just a hunch.
So…if there’s only one entrance, how are you supposed to get to the other platform? Well, it’s actually a design that makes a lot of sense. The fare gates take passengers to the inbound side, since that’s the dominant direction at any outlying station. But since we’re so close to the end of the line, very few people are going outbound. Why spend the money to build two mezzanines and pay two cashiers when you can just have people cross a footbridge to go outbound? Yes, it’s inconveniencing a few riders (in this case, me included), but from an efficiency standpoint, I see nothing wrong with it.
Despite the huge disparity in ridership between platforms, they both get similarly good treatments. The entirety of the station is sheltered, and both sides get this little nook set back from the platform where most of the seating space is. Still, the station has plenty of benches and wastebaskets scattered along the rest of the platforms, so you needn’t fear having to sit inside the nook if you don’t want to. I don’t know why you wouldn’t, though – the view down the street from in there is fantastic!
Station: 63rd Street (MFL)
Ridership: Like I mentioned, this station doesn’t get a ton of people: just 2,236 riders per day. This makes it the least-used station in West Philly, and its ridership is less than half of that of the second least-used station (although Millbourne gets less than 25% of this station’s ridership, but that’s Millbourne). Why do so few people use 63rd Street? Check back with me in the cons.
Pros: The West Philadelphia El renovations put a lot of care into the stations, and the good design really shines here. It’s a bizarre but pleasant surprise seeing so much artwork at a SEPTA stop (such stations are out there, but it’s rare), plus the station is simple and super easy to navigate. It seems like going outbound via the footbridge would be confusing, but the signage is clear and helpful.
Cons: Having to cross over to the outbound side is a little annoying (but not for most passengers), and I’ve experienced a stinky elevator and some peeling paint here before. Really, though, this station just isn’t especially useful. Half of its coverage is occupied by Cobbs Creek, and it’s only three blocks (a seven-minute walk!) away from its neighbor, 60th Street. Sure, it’s not as bad as Millbourne, which is in an even more terrible location, but…again, that’s Millbourne. I understand the need for a station here (63rd is an important street), but the location doesn’t equate to high ridership. Incidentally, because of that, only “A” trains stop here at rush hour. This is under “Cons” because the skip-stop system is stupid and I want it to go away.
Nearby and Noteworthy: 63rd Street is mostly residential, and the majority of businesses that are around here cater to that (i.e. convenience stores, pharmacies, etc.). There is a nice unpaved trail along Cobbs Creek, though, making for a nice escape from the city.
Final Verdict: 7/10
So I looked back at my Millbourne review to see what I scored that stop, and I had given it a 6. In terms of station quality, I would put 63rd and Millbourne on a similar pedestal, although I might as well reiterate that Millbourne Station is super weird and awesome and you should totally visit it. 63rd Street is a good station in a more traditional way, with good design and plenty of artwork to spruce the place up. And honestly, despite Millbourne’s charm, this station is just better. Plus, its ridership is less stupidly low (but still really low, not gonna deny it). That’s worth an extra point.
Latest SEPTA News: Service Updates
I think our hacking saga should be over. For those who don’t know, the blog was attacked over the past few days, redirecting users to sketchy websites. The problem was a plugin that I’ve now removed; it does mean you won’t be able to see related posts at the bottom of the page anymore, but I think we can all agree that’s a fine tradeoff for having a functional website that’s not trying to scam people.