One of Philadelphia’s major transit arteries, the trolley tunnel from 13th Street to 40th Street, is closing for 10 days starting Friday for its annual makeover, affecting the bulk of the riders who use the nation’s largest trolley system.
This is the seventh year SEPTA has closed the century-old, five-mile tunnel for repairs and preventative maintenance. Rather than complete the work intermittently, SEPTA opts to shut down the tunnel for a sustained period, which SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said is “the most effective and efficient way to do a large portion of work in a relatively short period of time."
SEPTA holds the “blitz” in the summer because schools are out and it’s peak vacation season.
But that leaves the 62,400 people who use it each workday in need of an alternative during the shutdown from Aug. 9 to 19. Some are resigned to the inconvenience. Others see it as a welcome change of pace.
For Louise Langford, 49, who plans to walk from home near Clark Park to work at the Pew Charitable Trusts at 20th and Market Streets, it’ll be a chance to avoid daily encounters with a dingy tunnel where trolleys stir muggy summertime breezes and speed by so loudly that SEPTA workers need to cover their ears.
“It’s a perfectly lovely walk,” Langford said. The shutdown, she said, is a “really nice opportunity to walk above ground for once.”
Matthew Barry, 29, lives in Center City and works as a nurse at Jefferson Hospital. He recalled needing to walk to the Market-Frankford Line during one of the closures when he lived at 46th and Chester Streets.
“I remember in past years … it was very frustrating,” Barry said.
He added, though, that when the trolley worked, “it was pretty convenient.”
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