Welcome to SEPTA’s least-used route. The 150 looks absolutely bizarre at first glance: it’s a nonstop suburban crosstown express from Parx Casino (in the northeast) to Plymouth Meeting Mall (in the northwest). I was all set to write this thing off as a 1/10 that makes absolutely no sense, but maybe there’s more than meets the eye here…
We had to do SEPTA’s insane, seemingly never-ending loop to get out of the casino complex, but once we did, we headed up the suburban sprawlscape of Street Road. It led us to a giant mass of trafficked highway interchanges that took a really long time to get to. Eventually, we ran through a toll booth onto the significantly less busy Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276).
Perhaps because it’s a toll road so each interchange requires a ton of infrastructure, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has super far-apart exits. We sped past both residential and industrial areas, but usually only the latter could be seen; the houses were shaded off from the highway by trees or walls. There was a weird one-way exit into a series of office parks, and the highway ran through the woods after one more proper interchange. We got off at Exit 333, looping through another toll and a bunch of ramps to get onto Germantown Pike. A short jaunt on there led us to the Plymouth Meeting Mall.
Route: 150 (Parx Casino to Plymouth Meeting Mall)
Ridership: Oh, it’s unquestionably low. My trip got 5 people, and on a daily basis the route gets 43. Everyone knew each other, including the driver. This thing is mostly used by seniors heading to the casino to gamble.
Cons: Yes, I’m actually starting with cons, because it seems like they’re all this thing has. Look at it: it’s a bizarre express route that gets very few people, the farebox recovery ratio is a miserable 7%, and the schedule is all over the place – it seems to run whenever it wants and however often it wants, with no consistency anywhere. The Saturday service is completely different from weekday, with trips way earlier in the morning for some reason. Gosh, this has to be a 1, right?
Pros: Except the buses on this route are actually non-revenue pullouts running in service. Suburban routes in Bucks County, which Parx Casino is in, run out of SEPTA’s Frontier Division near the Plymouth Meeting Mall! So some buses doing that trip just happen to run in service as the 150. The cost of running this thing is negligible – why not do it?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Gamblin’ and shoppin’. And highwayin’.
Final Verdict: 5/10
I mean…the ridership is still really low. And I don’t understand what the process is for choosing which runs operate as 150s. (e.g. why are there early morning ones on Saturdays but not on weekdays? The schedule doesn’t make a lot of sense.) But…it doesn’t really cost SEPTA anything to run these. Frankly, I see no reason to get rid of it – the bus would make the trip anyway. Why not keep it around?
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