SEPTA Subway–Surface Trolley Lines

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Subway–Surface Trolley Lines
SEPTA K-car 9074 on the 13.jpg
#9074 seen on Main Street operates on the #13 line in Darby, PA.
Type Trolley
Locale Philadelphia, Yeadon, and Darby, PA
Termini Overbrook (Rt 10)
Darby (Rt 11/13)
Angora (Rt 34)
Eastwick (Rt 36)
13th Street (all lines)
Stations 8 total underground stations,
8 major surface stations
Services Routes 10 Lancaster Avenue, 11 Woodland Avenue, 13 Chester Avenue, 34 Baltimore Avenue and 36 Elmwood Avenue
Daily ridership 132,255
Opened 1906
Character Underground and surface
Rolling stock Kawasaki Heavy Industries Rolling Stock Company K LRV cars
Line length 63.7 km (39.6 mi)[3]
Track gauge 5 ft 2 14 in (1,581 mm)[1][2]
Electrification Overhead line
Route map
SEPTA Subway-Surface map.png

The Subway–Surface Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 & 36 or Green Lines are five SEPTA trolley lines that operate on street-level tracks in West Philadelphia and Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and the two outermost tracks of the Market Street subway with rapid transit trains using the inner two tracks in Philadelphia's Center City. All together, the five lines operate on about 39.6 miles (63.7 km) of route.[3] (SEPTA Route 15, the Girard Avenue Line, is also a Streetcar Trolley and is designated in green on route maps but is not part of subway-surface system.)

Like Boston's Green Line and San Francisco's Muni Metro, the SEPTA Subway-Surface line is the descendant of a pre-World War II streetcar system. Where Boston and San Francisco's systems use longer, articulated LRT vehicles, Philadelphia uses rigid vehicles roughly four inches longer than the PCC streetcar they somewhat replaced. The lines use Kawasaki K-Car LRVs delivered in 1981-82. The cars are similar to those on the suburban trolley routes, which were delivered around the same time, however, unlike the suburban cars, the Subway-Surface cars are single-ended, and use trolley poles.

Starting from their eastern terminus at 13th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia, the tend to loop around in a tunnel under City Hall before stopping at under Dilworth Park then realign back under Market Street.

All five routes stop at underground stations at 13th Street, 15th Street, 19th Street, 22nd Street, 30th Street, and 33rd Street. From 15th to 30th Streets, they run in the same tunnel as SEPTA's Market–Frankford Line, with the rapid-transit trains on the inner tracks and the subway–surface trolleys on the outer ones.

Passengers may transfer free of charge to the Market–Frankford Line at 13th, 15th, and 30th Streets and to the Broad Street Line at 15th Street. Connections to the SEPTA Regional Rail are also available. Underground passageways connect the 13th and 15th Street Stations to Jefferson Station and Suburban Station.

The 30th Street trolley station is across the street from the 30th Street railroad station that serves SEPTA Regional Rail, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit trains. An underground passageway that connects these stations is currently closed.

The Route 10 line surfaces on 36th Street just south of Market Street, then heads northwest on surface streets. The other four lines make underground stops at 36th and Sansom Streets and at 37th and Spruce Streets, surface at the 40th St Portal near 40th Street and Baltimore Avenue, and then head southwest on surface streets.

The Route 11 line, traveling along Main Street in Darby, crosses CSX Transportation at grade. This, along with the TECO streetcar is currently one of the few locations in the U.S. with an at-grade crossing between a trolley line and a major freight rail line.[4][5]


College Hall (and Logan Hall) viewed from Woodland Ave., ca. 1892.

The Subway–Surface lines are remnants of the far more extensive streetcar system that developed in Philadelphia after the arrival of electric trolleys in 1892. Several dozen traction companies were consolidated in 1902 into the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company. The PRT funneled the West Philadelphia lines into subway tunnels as they approached the city center. After the PRT declared bankruptcy in 1939, it was reopened as the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC), which was absorbed into SEPTA in 1968.[6]

In October 2006, University of Pennsylvania's class of 1956 funded the construction of an innovative portal for one of the eastbound entrances of the 37th and Spruce station: a replica of a Peter Witt trolley of the kind manufactured by J. G. Brill and Company from 1923–26. Operated by the Philadelphia Transportation Company until 1956, these trolleys brought university students to the campus and to Center City, Philadelphia. Routes 11, 34 and 37 ran through the Penn campus on Woodland Avenue and Locust Streets for nearly 65 years. In 1956, the trolley route was buried to enable the university to unify its campus. Woodland Avenue and Locust Street became pedestrian walkways.

Diversion services[edit]

When tunnels are closed due to maintenance, an accident or some other obstruction, the trolleys can be diverted onto auxiliary surface tracks west of the 40th Street Portal connecting all five lines. Southbound tracks start along 40th Street at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue, which is occupied by the SEPTA Route 10 line. At Market Street, the line connects to the 40th Street MFL Subway Station. They continue southbound along reaching Spruce Street, where it splits either eastbound or westbound. Westbound tracks run to 42nd Street where they turn south to either Baltimore Avenue (SEPTA Route 34), Chester Avenue (SEPTA Route 13), or Woodland Avenue (SEPTA Routes 11 and 36). At 49th Street, another diversionary trolley track moves from Chester Avenue to southbound 49th Street to over the Media/Elwyn Line bridge, to Woodland Avenue, where the Route 36 line splits from the Route 11 line.

Northbound trolleys run up 42nd Street to Spruce Street and then north along 38th Street (US 13) until it reaches Filbert Street and makes a left, crossing the 40th Street tracks. When Filbert Street terminates at 41st Street, the tracks turn right, and head north until reaching Lancaster Avenue.[7]


Route Length of Line[8] West terminus Main streets of travel East terminus Depot assigned
Route 10 5.9 mi Overbrook
63rd Street/Malvern Avenue Loop
Lansdowne Avenue and
Lancaster Avenue
Center City
13th Street
Callowhill Carhouse
Route 11 6.7 mi Darby
Darby Transportation Center
Woodland Avenue Elmwood Carhouse
Route 13 6.9 mi Yeadon
Yeadon Loop
Darby Transportation Center
Chester Avenue Elmwood Carhouse
Route 34 4.8 mi Angora
61st & Baltimore
Baltimore Avenue Elmwood Carhouse
Route 36 7.0 mi Eastwick
73rd & Elmwood
Island & 80th
Elmwood Avenue Elmwood Carhouse
Former Subway-Surface Routes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The history of trolley cars and routes in Philadelphia". SEPTA. June 1, 1974. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-06-11. An early city ordinance prescribed that all tracks were to have a gauge of 5' 2 14. 
  2. ^ Hilton, George W.; Due, John Fitzgerald (January 1, 2000). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press. Retrieved 2014-06-10. Worst of all, not all city systems were built to the standard American and European gauge of 4'-8 12". Pittsburgh and most other Pennsylvania cities used 5'-2 12", which became known as the Pennsylvania trolley gauge. Cincinnati used 5'-2 12", Philadelphia 5'-2 14", Columbus 5'-2", Altoona 5'-3", Louisville and Camden 5'-0", Canton and Pueblo 4'-0", Denver, Tacoma, and Los Angeles 3'-6", Toronto an odd 4'-10 78", and Baltimore a vast 5'-4 12. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, Jr., Bill W. (November 2011). "U.S. Urban Rail Transit Lines Opened From 1980" (pdf). pp. 1–100. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  4. ^ Philadelphia Transit; Streetcars;Route 11 (Kavanaugh Transit Systems)
  5. ^ davidwilson1949 (July 6, 2003). 20030706 26 Main St. Crossing CSXT in Darby (6071320235) (photograph). Retrieved December 31, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Studio 34's Eponymous Trolley, or, A Short History of Route 34". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  7. ^ SEPTA Subway-Surface Lines map
  8. ^ "SEPTA - Spring 2012 Route Statistics" (PDF). Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata