Oho, we’re getting some PATCO up in here! As much as I love going to New Jersey (I know a lot of people hate it, but you can’t deny it’s one of the most interesting states in the country), the main thing keeping me away is the fact that, despite having a SEPTA pass, I still have to pay to get there! Well, when trying to ride all of the transit modes in the Philadelphia area in one day, I made an exception and headed to 15th/16th and Locust on an early Sunday morning to go to the Garden State.
This station has no fewer than five stair-based entrances spread between 15th and 16th Streets, and four of them are just staircases into the ground. That’s nothing new for Philadelphia. However, there is one fancy entrance near 16th Street that actually takes up the front of a building. Of course, it is still just a staircase into the ground, but at least it’s different.
Luckily this station is accessible, but boy, the elevator sure is lurchy. Located at 15th Street, the doors will close on this thing, but it’ll wait a few seconds to actually start moving. During that time, you contemplate whether or not you’ll be stuck in here for the rest of your life, but then, with a loud screech and a shudder, you’re finally going. The same process repeats in reverse when you get to the bottom. Oh, and don’t forget about the trash on the floor and the horrible smell!
This is my first station review that’s connected to the Center City Concourse, so I should bring that up. Basically, Center City has this huge transit concourse that runs between a lot of the stations downtown. Its usefulness mostly comes down to being able to walk between stops without having to go outside, but the corridors are often stark and dingy. In this case, the concourse is quite useful for getting between PATCO and the Broad Street Line (although people are far more likely to make the connection at the next stop east), but it’s clear where PATCO ends and SEPTA begins: the PATCO area is nice and clean, but once you pass through a doorway, the ground becomes dirty, the architecture gets bland, and on this early Sunday morning, a few people were making the big wide SEPTA hallway their home for the night.
Well, okay, the architecture for the PATCO mezzanine is pretty bland too, but at least it has these cool green lights on occasion! No, but seriously, it’s a bad mezzanine. There’s a ton of space but not nearly enough fare machines or gates, so it all ends up feeling empty. Plus, since PATCO has zone fares, you have to exit through the faregates as well, forcing them to handle double the traffic (at least SEPTA usually has exit-only turnstiles to lighten the load). The mezzanine has two sets of faregates, one at each street, and a hallway between them.
Now in fare control, we have a few things you would expect: some wastebaskets, stairs, and a this-time-not-smelly elevator down to the platform. However, this area also has another fare machine, meant for people who might’ve bought the wrong zone on their ticket, as well as bike racks. Yes, the in-station bike racks are actually within fare control, which I guess makes them harder to steal, but that also means you have to lug your bike through the fare gate. I would say it evens out to be net neutral.
Every PATCO platform has a specific color, and this one is yellow. The platform has that sleek retro-future feel that I get from a lot of PATCO stations (just check out those benches!), and it has what you would expect: seats, wastebaskets, PATCO’s cool tactile maps, and a screen that looked to be in testing at the time. Also Xfinity Wi-Fi, apparently. The station also has photos of Philly on the walls, which is nice. Since this is the first stop on the line, there’s probably gonna be a train waiting here, leaving most people with no time to appreciate the platform much. After I was done with my pictures, I too hopped onto the waiting train.
Station: 15th/16th and Locust Streets (PATCO)
Ridership: Well, darn, PATCO doesn’t give ridership information by station. And 7 AM on a Sunday is really not the time to be analyzing ridership, when very few people are using transit. Well, I’ll say this: people most likely transfer to the Broad Street Line at the stop before this one, 12th/13th, leaving 15th/16th to be used for what’s around it. What is around it? Rittenhouse Square. Well, that’s a big boost for pleasure-seeking off-peak ridership, then!
Pros: This is a decent place to end the service. I know it was originally supposed to be part of a loop around Center City, but as it stands, the station is two blocks from Rittenhouse Square, which seems fine. And the station itself is pretty nice, feeling generally much cleaner than SEPTA stations do.
Cons: The elevator heading up to street level was an unpleasant experience to ride. The mezzanine feels sparse, and when everyone has to enter and leave through the faregates, I can see things getting pretty congested during busy times.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Rittenhouse Square, of course! Everything around there is pretty expensive, but I still enjoy walking through the park and around the neighborhood.
Final Verdict: 7/10
Yeah, this is a good station. Why didn’t it score higher? The problems it does have are pretty major, and there isn’t anything special here to blow me away and help overlook the other issues. Still, this is better than most SEPTA stations, and I know that’s not saying much, but I still like this one anyway!
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