Submitted by Kondratev t3_ygou73 in philadelphia

Left the city 10 years ago. I'm thinking about moving back. These days I use a walker to get around, so I'd be spending a lot of time on SEPTA. In the past I never had any real trouble. Even then, taking the trolley at City Hall after midnight meant walking past hundreds of homeless people sleeping on the El platform.

Is it actually worse now? Is it really common to see people shooting up or smoking on the train? It was pretty normal to see a homeless guy sleeping in the back of the car. Do people get in your face now?

How much of this is a real decline in safety, and how much is just talk?



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Revolutionary_Bee700 t1_iu9p4oo wrote

The trolley and busses are fine. BSL is mostly fine/the same. The EL has degraded. No one has threatened or bothered me, but the obvious drugged out people sprawled in the cars has increased. I’m guessing because it goes thru Kensington. If you were around in the 90’s, it’s not anything you haven’t seen.


RowdySuperBigGulp t1_iu9phvg wrote

I took my kid downtown for the day and took the El to avoid paying for parking and junkies were shooting up and nodding off right in the open . It was 8 in the morning .

The El is a cheap and convenient way to get downtown but it isn’t a very pleasant experience.


dadventures215 t1_iuabqad wrote

We all deserve better. Our ball team is in the World Series rn for god’s sake!


mbz321 t1_iuc9wuh wrote

Lol like that makes a lick of difference about anything.


kellyoohh t1_iu9ynfi wrote

I think it’s gotten slightly more unsightly in terms of the things you may encounter, but I’ve never had someone get in my face or really bother me directly that I felt unsafe. I ride the el nearly daily and at multiple different times. It’s the age old requirement to be alert, but overall it doesn’t concern me too much.


Key-Ad-7228 t1_iua7hfw wrote

If you have a disability try using the Paratransit offered by SEPTA. Mini-buses.


afdc92 t1_iuaa0bf wrote

Busses and trolleys are generally fine, I’ve never had an issue on either. However, I do think safety on the MFL and BSL and in the stations has gotten a lot worse since the pandemic. Pre-pandemic I didn’t have any problems on the BSL and the MFL really only felt sketchy to me up near Kensington. BSL is generally better than the El but there have been a couple of instances of rapes in the stations, but the trains themselves are generally ok. On the El there’s open drug use throughout the line, lots of homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicts hanging out and sleeping in the stations so they smell like unwashed bodies and human waste, and there’s been shootings, stabbings, muggings, rapes. A few months ago I was in the maze below City Hall station at like 9 am and turned a corner and saw two people having sex right out in the open, not at all bothered. I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t ride the train alone anymore even during the day. I’d rather pay for a Lyft than have to deal with everything.


blatz06 t1_iuakmre wrote

El is a mess, BSL is eh, Buses seem similar, Regional Rail seems emptier.

Cannot stress how much of a mess the el is now compared to just a couple years ago.


vertical_attorney t1_iu9q97s wrote

Hmm. "Is it worse" and "has there been a real decline in safety" are two separate things. It's not always a pleasant ride on the el, but someone smoking is not a threat. I think it's more or less back to normal in terms of safety, especially further from Kensington, but I'd also say that there are more frequently people being annoying and selfish. That's the case off of SEPTA too, though, so who knows.

BSL is usually fine, buses are even better.


TreeMac12 t1_iu9r479 wrote

>someone smoking is not a threat

That depends on what they are smoking


Skylineviewz t1_iuad4hg wrote

Call me old fashioned, but somebody brazen enough to smoke anything on a train probably is something of a threat


katecrime t1_iubsvpb wrote

Call me observant, but I’m guessing you never take public transit. (That one time years ago that you took the BSL to see a Phillies game doesn’t count).


katecrime t1_iua0pe5 wrote

How’s that?


mikebailey t1_iua5dha wrote

Second-hand crack is not to be trifled with


katecrime t1_iubsf4o wrote

Please be joking


mikebailey t1_iubslou wrote

No, second-hand crack is actually really bad

Edit: yea it was a joke, good lord


katecrime t1_iubt10z wrote

I’m simply going to assume this is trolling


mikebailey t1_iubt6zj wrote

I’m pretty sure the thing you replied to was sarcasm, but also second hand cig smoke on a closed car (edit: yes train car, lol) would really suck


katecrime t1_iubu2nk wrote

I was replying to your comment about “second-hand crack” - which is monumentally dumb


mikebailey t1_iubu400 wrote

Yeah it was a pretty blatant joke, as was probably the one above it


katecrime t1_iubtxqh wrote


Let’s assume you mean a subway car.
I actually ride the subway and have never experienced or witnessed someone smoking a cigarette on the train. Sometimes they carry a smelly half-smoked cigarette, which is stinky.
Sometimes there are other unpleasant smells from other people. But that’s life in a city, proximity to other people.

Even if you have to encounter “second hand smoke” during your 10-minute ride, I promise you, that’s not going to instantly give you cancer. Really.


mikebailey t1_iubu1nd wrote

I mean I feel like you are here seeking an argument about something folks were largely joking about so I’m not really gonna entertain it


katecrime t1_iubu8v6 wrote

These fear-mongering suburbanites are serious and think that crack-smoking “drug pushers” are plentiful on transit.


[deleted] t1_iubuan7 wrote



mikebailey t1_iubue7o wrote

Telling a joke isn’t trolling, you just can’t discern one from a serious comment. It’s a Saturday on Halloween weekend, Phils are playing, positive vibes.


katecrime t1_iubujvz wrote

A “blatant” joke (you should really look that word up) is only a joke if it’s funny/identifiable as such.


mikebailey t1_iubunxy wrote

You literally said “Up- and down- votes tell the story on Reddit. 💋” in another sub during this argument and there’s about a 20 vote differential here between you asking someone to explain a lighthearted comment and my sarcasm.

Here: No, I do not think SEPTA is hotboxed with crack


katecrime t1_iubux4w wrote

Elsewhere, stalker.

Get a life, go watch your sports games


mikebailey t1_iubv0wt wrote

“Go watch the Phillies” in r/philadelphia is considered a chirp? Oh brother


TreeMac12 t1_iuagotx wrote

How do you respond when the smoker looks at you and says “You got a problem?”


mikebailey t1_iubcw3g wrote

This validates my theory that you can respond with “brother, sigh in this economy?” to anything anyone on the street says and get away safely


katecrime t1_iubroi3 wrote

I don’t stare or glare at them, so this hasn’t/wouldn’t come up.

I’m a subway rider and I haven’t seen people smoking anything on the train. Most of the CC stations reek of cannabis, but that’s a far cry from “people smoking crack on the train”.

Similarly, you may see people nodding on a train or bus. Also different from a person “shooting up on public transit”.


DonQOnIce t1_iu9rl6l wrote

Yeah, it’s unpleasant so I don’t recommend it if you’re trying to show the best side of the city to visitors but I wouldn’t say it’s less safe.


JTAx1995 t1_iu9r1wc wrote

Considering I was punched for no reason on the train the other day, I’d say it has gotten worse a bit.


Taskerst t1_iua7h6q wrote

In that time the EL has gone from a rough around the edges but mildly lovable “Philly” experience, to an 80% of the time you’ll see something harrowing experience. Other people may have different opinions but I’m saying this as someone with 30 years experience riding SEPTA.

BSL is fine outside of 2-3pm rowdy school kids and the after 11pm weekend weirdness.

Buses have actually improved.


katecrime t1_iubsnzq wrote

Excellent point about the “rowdy school kids”. That’s the most serious daily-basis “threat” on SEPTA these days.

Can y’all control your kids please?


mmmagic1216 t1_iu9rbbj wrote

The only “benefit” now is that the pandemic killed ridership - Septa still isn’t at pre-COVID rider levels, especially on the RR. I ride often and generally feel safe, but there are some obvious poor/high…unwell people riding at times.


greentreefour t1_iua8tur wrote

I had some dirty bum spit in my hair yesterday morning at the city hall stop. Never saw him before, he was screaming at the top of his lungs at nobody and when I got up from the bench because the train was coming he ran up to me and spit, while calling me names and asking me if I wanted to fight! This was at 8am. So yeah, the El especially is a shit show!


FamiliarMountain117 t1_iuaweog wrote

Omg smh did you report it?


greentreefour t1_iuay07f wrote

I did actually, when I got to 69th st. He actually got on the train with me and continued to harass me the whole ride to the 69th st terminal. I called septa police, they have a station at 69th st, and two officers were waiting for me when I got off.

He denied everything, of course, but they gave him a citation. I spoke with detectives and am going to have him prosecuted.


grittyfanboi t1_iu9mop6 wrote

They smoked pre COVID and they continue to smoke now. It's one of the worst parts of taking trains and one of the many reasons I avoid it. Buses are solid and I tend to use those or bike.


12kdaysinthefire t1_iu9tit6 wrote

Regional rail is the same, empty stations anywhere are kind of scary, I wouldn’t ride the el.


giddygumdrop t1_iu9uyo5 wrote

I take the trolley almost everyday and it’s consistently fine. The El is less unsafe than it is just gross. The BSL has been fine for me in daylight hours, as long as it’s not when school is dismissed.


palerthanrice t1_iuahopk wrote

It’s not talk. It really is a lot worse.

That being said, BSL is mostly okay when you’re riding during peak hours. Buses always seem to reflect the areas where you’re taking them, and since most areas in Philly are a lot worse, the buses are worse as well, but if you’re just taking one from center city to fairmount or something then you’re fine.

The El is unusable, no matter how crowded it is. Avoid at all costs. It was never good, but it’s a complete embarrassment nowadays.


skepticones t1_iuaj4qb wrote

i would definitely avoid BSL stations between certain hours where you are likely to be alone on the platform.


Gabagoo44 t1_iuav2vt wrote

You use a walker so Septa is definitely not safe, you are a target and more likely to get robbed


Rahawk02 t1_iud58x9 wrote

My dad is blind but he refuses to use a cane on the El because it makes him a target. Instead he would just bump into people and yell I’m blind when they got mad lol I told him he’s going to get himself whooped one of these days doing that.


porkchameleon t1_iuaoeqn wrote

El is much worse at any time I've taken it (stopped in the spring, never fucking again).

Buses on busier routes and trolleys are fine.

Regional rail is OK, conductors even enforced quiet car rules a few times I took that one.


claudedusk8 t1_iuap1c9 wrote

Don't worry... you can still take a leak in the concourse. No worries.


Jaded-Trainer12 t1_iualh7d wrote

How old are you?.if your considered elderly then I would recommend not using Septa..but if it's absolutely necessary then go between certain hours. Panhandlers will still be out but the young "bulls" are what scares me. If your not up on defending yourself or at the very least in some sort of shape to let one know "this is going to be difficult" then I would stick with a ride share. Choose your times wisely when using Septa. Welcome Back👍


tenkaraphl t1_iuamm6y wrote

Ride the El daily. I see needle drug use and cigarette smoking on trains 4 out of 5 days a week. The bus is better than 10 years ago atmo.


phillyjim t1_iuc19fj wrote

Depends what your tolerance is and what you’re willing to spend to avoid it.

  • the el no one should ever take, period
  • broad street isn’t great either, lots of people downplaying this but there have been rapes in bsl stations recently. I’d avoid if
  • on the bus you’ll get a typical bus experience. You’ll be safe.
  • regional rail is fine other than the stations themselves. I’ve been riding septa for 20 years and I can say with confidence that this is by far the worst that the stations have ever been. Stick to rush hours.

Lunamothknits t1_iu9w32m wrote

I grew up here and exclusively used public transit. Now that I'm back, I'm so glad I drive. So, yes.


Adventurous_Key3647 t1_iub8fqg wrote

I was threatened and almost physically assaulted on the BSL. Luckily I live close enough to everything and don’t mind an Uber if I need to but I refuse to ride the septa until they fix it up. Too many people getting away with too much.

Also, after I was almost assaulted there was a rape at gun point and a shooting on the bsl a week later so I’m good. The half-bred cretins can have it. Let them ruin it like they ruin everything else.


ParallelPeterParker t1_iua52yt wrote

I dont have a basis of comparison because I've biked for years and only take public trans in bad weather, but my wife used to take the El daily when we lived in west Philly (moved in june 2020). We've moved twice and she basically refuses to take it alone.

Rush hour is about the only time she'll consider it and even then. Honestly speaking, there's always some risk because some people suck, but it certainly feels more frequent today than say prepandemic.

Eta: regional rail is generally fine.


calicojawn t1_iucexfd wrote

The entire city is a mess right now, moreso than usual. We've gone back in time about* 30 years.


cuberhino t1_iua4fz2 wrote

Avoid the El if only because the elevators to get up to the station are constantly soaked in piss. Specifically Frankford/Arrot transport centers are the worst offenders


napsdufroid t1_iua7xgl wrote

> Is it actually worse now?



Farzy78 t1_iuaag7t wrote

The El gets worse every year


jrc_80 t1_iuadss7 wrote

I take the bus and el every weekday past 25 years. It’s fine. No better or worse than it’s ever been. Media is compromised. Don’t pay attention to that shit.


Arkhikernc t1_iu9oejg wrote

For me both the BSL and the El are fine. Not perfect but I don't feel unsafe when I use them.


nicodies t1_iuaks8a wrote

in my 8 years here i’ve consistently been a little too wimpy to take the trains because of bad early experiences, but i’ve never had a hard time avoiding it! bus and trolley service is pretty good and always feel safe to me


Odd-Emergency5839 t1_iual3gp wrote

I don’t usually have issues on the el but I’m an able bodied somewhat large guy. I’ve heard many female riders have sketchy experiences and regardless of gender you’ll encounter people smoking or screaming at each other. Overall it’s fine and I keep using it.


emlynhughes t1_iuamtku wrote

Any SEPTA OGs want to explain how Regional Rail worked before key cards?

How did they charge correct fairs?


fritolazee t1_iuasfsf wrote

If you were in center city you bought a round trip paper ticket from an office in the station before you got on the train. If you forgot to buy it, you could buy a fare from the conductor, who would magically know how much you had to pay.


emlynhughes t1_iuasne8 wrote

That makes sense. The conductors are carry over from when they had a lot more to do.


danieldayloser t1_iubdfjh wrote

yes i see people shooting up/smoking in the carts every time i use the el (6-8x/week). no one gets in your face but half the car is nodding off.


Electrical_Cat589 t1_iubgwqg wrote

Always seem to find the smoking car when I’m on the BSL, and my favorite ride on that line was the day a drunk man was sitting diagonal, whipped out his penis and let loose. I would have been more impressed by the arc of urine had it not splashed on my shoes…

I never have an issue on the trolley.


_crapitalism t1_iu9wllp wrote

nobody gets in your face really. people mind their business, even if it's "anti-social behavior"


mental_issues_ t1_iub2365 wrote

I am trying only to use buses and uber, but the last couple of times I used EL it was fine. Still, trying to avoid it.


Rahawk02 t1_iud4w3y wrote

I went to the Franklin institute with my 8 yo daughter and the dude next us started shooting up . She had no idea what was going on and I just told her to look at all the cool drawings on the tops of the building . However a concerned citizen yells out Ehhh there’s fuckin children on hereeee. And then yells at me that I gotta speak up .

Now she’s aware something’s going on when before she was happily just staring out the window, I never felt unsafe but it was a really awkward 15 minute or so ride.


mental_issues_ t1_iud87vi wrote

I really enjoy raising my daughter in the city, because there is a lot to do and we can walk everywhere. She is asking questions about homeless or crazy people on the street, but she is never scared, just curious.


AnokataX t1_iubt2b0 wrote

I don't feel any significant difference, and I've taken it for over a decade now. Stay alert of course, and try to stay near or walk near a safe group if possible (business-people, elderly, students, etc).

If it's late at night, keep a tight hold on your stuff, walk in lit areas, and check behind you and around you as you go on the buses/trains.


ILaikspace t1_iudgv9h wrote

I’ve mostly just seen lots of druggies on the EL. People openly smoking weed or cigarettes on the train and whatever


21chucks t1_iufzdvg wrote

What is it with all these people saying "don't take the El" . Ive taken it daily (admittedly during commuting hours) for almost 5 years without incident. Seen some unpleasant things but that's about it. I agree septa could do a lot more to make it a more secure and clean experience but just "don't take it" seems to be a bit excessive.


RoughRhinos t1_iubfxmo wrote

Take it everyday for last 6 years and it's basically still the same but less crowded


smallspark t1_iuatlsg wrote

It’s fine. I was just on it for the first time since COVID during rush hour up and back. Same as it ever was. Just emptier, actually.


Shartenberg t1_iucovmy wrote

Just make sure your beneficiaries are up to date on all accounts.


mlippay t1_iu9lwwq wrote

It depends. Are you hanging around Kensington and Allegheny a lot? If not rarely/never. I would say better on average.


fearinclothing t1_iu9q5b3 wrote

There have been two sightings of the Hash slinging slasher on the regional rail. There have been reports of him pulling people’s shirts up and blowing raspberries on their bellybuttons. SEPTA danger is at an all-time high.

Stay safe riders.