Over a year of doing SEPTA reviews and it’s taken me this long to do a trolley? Shame on me. The 10 is the one I use the least, too, since it’s the only one that doesn’t go to Penn! Although it is the one I’ve taken to the end the most times – that 10-minute walk to Overbrook Station makes it real easy to ride the Paoli/Thorndale Line on a budget.
I always enjoy the first part of the 10, when the trolleys run down the leafy, mostly single-family and duplex residential 63rd Street. It just feels like the trolleys are so out of place! Like always, though, it turned to more normal rowhouses and businesses (and a lot of abandoned storefronts) once we turned onto Landsdowne Ave.
Soon after a church, we passed through the major intersection of Lancaster and 52nd: here, there were several gas stations and a few other businesses. We turned onto Lancaster here, which is the main thoroughfare used by the 10. It felt pretty industrial for a few blocks before we reached the awesome 150-foot section where the 10 crosses Girard and briefly shares trackage with the 15. Alas, I didn’t spot any PCC cars running on the latter this time.
We passed a park after crossing Girard, then Lancaster Ave became lined with businesses, some open and some abandoned. It’s a diagonal street, so every intersection was at an angle; the triangular bit between the streets was sometimes vacant, although beautiful murals would show up on the sides of buildings next to the lots. Vacant lots and storefronts grew fewer as we continued southeast.
It was after crossing Haverford Ave that the street really started to get a hipstery college-kid vibe. Some of the businesses included a bike shop, an around-the-world gift shop, and an Edible Arrangements. A small building surrounded by super vibrantly-painted sidewalks occupied the triangle between Lancaster, Powelton, and 38th, while the huge office and apartment buildings along Market Street came into view.
We turned onto 36th Street, crossing Market (very weird on a trolley) before taking a left into the 36th Street Portal. Heading underground, we merged with the other trolley lines and pulled into 33rd Street Station; from there, it was onto Market to 30th Street Station. We ran along the local tracks with the El in the middle, making stops at 22nd and 19th. Most of the trolley got off at 15th, but to complete the review, I had to make the screechy trip all the way to 13th.
Route: 10 (13th-Market to 63rd-Malvern)
Ridership: Aw, it’s SEPTA’s least-used subway-surface trolley. But that in no way means the 10 is slacking – it still gets 11,163 riders per weekday! I mean, I rode on a weekday when it’s every 10 minutes, and over the course of the 35-minute ride, 94 people boarded. That’s insane!
Pros: This is the only subway-surface trolley that runs north of Market, so it has a ton of territory covered all on its own. Although its ridership may be a little lower than the other trolleys (probably due to a few industrial areas and the suburban nature of the terminus), the 10 is still a powerhouse. Its schedule mostly reflects that, too, with service every 5 minutes at rush hour, every 10 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes on Saturdays. The 10 even runs overnight, at every 35 minutes during the wee hours.
Cons: At least until (hopefully) trolley modernization, we’re stuck with stops every two feet apart. And of course, it’s time to do the same rant I’ll be doing in every trolley review: the night and Sunday schedules are awful. Every 20 minutes most of the time, and even worse for the rest. These are rail assets – they should not be running this infrequently! Also, as I discovered tonight and ranted on Twitter about, the trolleys are scheduled to bunch in the tunnel on Sundays. There is no reason this should be the case. All this is doing is hurting frequency in what should be a frequent corridor and turning away potential riders. They could fix this for zero cost.
EDIT: Oh, also, I forgot: the GTFS (data for Google Maps and other apps) for the 10 shows it as going all the way into Center City on Sunday nights, when it’s actually detoured to 40th. That’s…really bad.
Nearby and Noteworthy: This is kind of fascinating – a family has been making art in Powelton Village for 50 years, in a variety of different mediums. Their little rowhouse museum is only open by appointment, but it seems like a neat way to see some local art.
Final Verdict: 7/10
The bottom line is that SEPTA has a ton of routes that run far worse Sunday service than the 10. Yes, running a trolley every 20 minutes at any time that’s not overnight is awful, but it’s better than having a normally frequent bus go every 30. Although trolley service on Sundays frustrates me to no end (especially now that I know they’re scheduled to bunch), I concede that it’s pretty good on the other days of the week.
Latest SEPTA News: Service Updates