Yes, I fully admit it: I’m getting a fun one out of the way early on. There is no other SEPTA rapid transit station quite like Millbourne, from the fact that it’s at ground level and outside of the City of Philadelphia (two qualities shared only by its neighbor, 69th Street) to its strange, abandoned tranquility. Or how about the fact that the borough of Millbourne is just nine short blocks long and, at most, two blocks tall? This might be the only place in America where an entire town can be within walking distance of one subway station!
Alright, here we are on the platform. As you can see, there isn’t all that much to it. The westbound side is practically bare, with only some wastebaskets to keep its riders company. That said, as the penultimate stop on the El, I imagine the number of people boarding here to go to 69th Street is practically nil.
Also on the westbound side is what looks like a big abandoned parking lot that’s slowly being reclaimed by nature. There are some staircases from the platform that go to this wasteland, but they’re marked as “Emergency Exit Only,” and I wasn’t about to get arrested on only my second review. Still, these emergency exits are the only way to leave the station from the westbound platform; otherwise, you have to use the footbridge, which features another one of Millbourne’s quirks.
So, stairs and an elevator lead to the footbridge. Simple enough. But…there are actually two footbridges. The other one is accessed via an exit-only turnstile from the outbound platform, and it leads straight to the exit. The question is: does the elevator also take you to and from the unpaid footbridge? It has a button for it and doors and everything. I tried calling it from up on the unpaid footbridge to see if it was possible to get a free ride to 69th (it isn’t), but I never tried to actually use it the normal way by taking it up there from the westbound platform. Man, I need to get my priorities straight here…
I’ll briefly touch upon the eastbound platform, but it’s not all that different from the westbound. Wanna know the difference? It has two whole benches near the entrance! Okay, and that’s it. At least the exits from the eastbound side actually go somewhere, though.
Millbourne’s strangeness continues. There’s not really a mezzanine here, just a sales agent with two faregates, each accessible via their own separate fenced area. But, you might ask, where’s the ticket machine? Look closely, see if you can spot it. Aha! It’s at the entrance to the unpaid footbridge! Yeah, that makes a ton of sense! You probably could walk across there and get a free ride to 69th, since the fare machine there just beckons people to do that! Oh wait, but there are exit-only turnstiles blocking the way to the platform. Okay, okay, SEPTA thought this through…
And now we get to Millbourne’s multitude of exits. Yes, five out of the borough’s twelve streets get direct access to the station, two of which are covered by the Sellers Ave exit. It’s the simplest one, just a short path from the mezzanine to the street, and it’s also the only wheelchair accessible exit. When you’re leaving, you walk by a nice station sign with feather art all around it, and you also go by the single bike rack at the entrance.
The rest of the exits are accessed by a set of stairs (or exit-only turnstiles from the eastbound side) leading down to a path. When you’re walking along here, you’re quite literally in people’s backyards. For example, I can tell you that at least one of the houses along this path has a cute dog, because I could see it bounding around the yard as I walked by!
Soon the backyards get replaced by a wall, but it is plastered with awesome murals! Yes, this might just be the most art-heavy station on SEPTA, because the murals go all the way down the path once they start showing up. There are two exits along this section that are just staircases going up to the end of whatever street they’re serving.
Ah yes…the path is also running right next to the tracks. That means that you get a fantastic view of trains every time they come by – it’s probably the only place on the El where you can be at ground level next to them. Anyway, the last exit is at the end of the path, and basically, the path just ends at Park Ave next to Millbourne’s police department. Nothing too fancy here, especially compared to the rest of the station’s quirks!
Station: Millbourne (MFL)
Ridership: Every weekday, there are 323 trains that stop at Millbourne. What is Millbourne’s daily ridership? 391 people. So, factoring in that a lot more people probably get on here at rush hour, there are a heck of a lot of trains that stop here without getting any passengers. However, it is worth noting that Millbourne’s total population is 1,159 people, meaning that about a third of the borough’s residents take transit! Yes, I know there are non-Millbourne residences that are also close to the station so the percentage is probably smaller, but it sounds like a neat fact.
Pros: I can say with almost complete certainty that this is the most pleasant SEPTA rapid transit station to wait at. It feels absolutely nothing like any other station on the system, what with the abandoned tranquility of the parking lot to the north and the charming dead-end streets to the south. Millbourne also has some fantastic artwork and a lot of it, and the access to the surrounding neighborhoods is top-notch.
Cons: Here’s a little Millbourne tip: if you’re getting off here from a westbound train, board as close to the front as possible. Having to go over the footbridge just to get to the exit is made even more annoying if you have to walk all the way down the platform to get to it. The placement of the fare machine at the entrance of the unpaid footbridge is also very questionable. Finally, there’s the elephant in the room: very very few people use Millbourne to the point where during off-peak times, I would imagine stopping here feels like a waste of time. There’s obviously nothing that can be done about that (except for midday A-B skip-stop service…blech. This is a B stop at rush hour, for the record.), but it was worth mentioning. I still think every train should stop here anyway.
Nearby and Noteworthy: It’s predominantly residential around here, but there are some businesses down on Market Street. I came to Millbourne for its nearby Dollar Tree, hoping to find some crappy $1 headphones, but they weren’t in stock, so I bought $1 water instead.
Final Verdict: 6/10
I’ll say it one more time: there’s no station on SEPTA rapid transit quite like Millbourne, and that’s why I love it. Even at rush hour, it was super peaceful, so I would love to see what it’s like on, say, a Sunday morning. There are of course a number of functional problems with Millbourne, but I can’t help loving this weird little station.
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