The first time my family came to Philadelphia, we stayed at a hotel right next to this station. I was shocked when we took the trolley for the first time. “Where are the fare gates????” I asked desperately. Oh, Miles. You had a lot to learn.
As much as I like my dorm’s location and transit options, I have to hold some jealousy for those who live in King’s Court, since the trolley station is right outside that dorm! Plus the El station at 34th Street is only a few blocks away. Hmph. Well, anyway, I’m stalling, because these two entrances are just staircases going into the ground and that’s it.
Well, would you look at that. A big, giant, open mezzanine with nothing in it (well, aside from a nice mural on the far end). Hmm, I have a small proposal that might help to fill the space a little bit. Definitely a little out of the box, so bear with me. How about putting in…FARE GATES????????
No, of course, we have to deal with the classic trolley business of flagging things down, paying on board, and just generally having a terrible and sad time. Look at this platform, it’s just so…bleh! I’m glad that the walls and floors are generally clean, but the industrial-like ceilings? The mysterious yellow liquid oozing down the tracks? Yeah, no thanks.
Because Google Maps (somewhat misleadingly) considers these to be the same station, let’s hop up two blocks to the 36th Street Portal, used by the 10 trolley. There isn’t much to it: just two shelters, one for each direction. Signs are plastered all over the tunnel entrance saying various permutations of “SEPTA Vehicles Only!”
There are two other noteworthy aspects of this station. First of all, if you look at the photo above, you can just make out the bike rack sitting behind a tree! I dunno, seems like it would be pretty hard to actually lock up your bike there. Also of note is the fact that this station has the dreaded blue light that lets you know when trolleys are being diverted to 40th Street. But wait…”Trolleys will operate…via Spruce Street.” Welp, that’s just blatantly wrong. The 10 doesn’t go near Spruce! Oh, SEPTA…
Station: 36th Street (Trolleys)
Ridership: Oh right…SEPTA doesn’t release ridership information for the trolleys. Well, the station is the closest to many of UPenn’s buildings, so most of its ridership is probably from university workers and students. I’m sure it gets a decent number of riders per day. As for the portal…I honestly can’t see much reason in using that to go into the city when you have four times the frequency in the underground station!
Pros: It’s a straightforward station that’s very easy to navigate. The mezzanine has that nice mural. The portal…has…shelter…?
Cons: Look, I get the portal not having fare control, since it’s basically a street stop. But the subway station has this perfect mezzanine that would be so easy to install fare gates in! Like, way easier than 19th and 22nd, where they really had to get creative to install the things. Other problems here include the dinginess of the subway station and the overall uselessness of the portal. So, you know, this station is pretty bad.
Nearby and Noteworthy: UPenn, wooooooo! Also, the free Institute of Contemporary Art is right outside the trolley entrance, but bear in mind it’s closed until the beginning of February.
Final Verdict: 3/10
There are definitely no redeeming qualities to this one like there have been with my other trolley station reviews. 37th Street had the cool trolley entrance and 19th and 22nd Streets had fare control, but there’s nothing here that could raise the score above a 3. I mean, okay, the mural in the mezzanine is nice, but that’s certainly not enough to add a point. Put fare gates in there already!
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