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Old 08-21-2013, 06:50 AM
 
4,263 posts, read 10,024,086 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuckinsj View Post
I get your frustration. It must be tough to be in a new city that your not used to. Philadelphia does have a wayfinding system with Walk Philadelphia on sign posts on the sidewalk. Did you see them? They are geared towards pedestrians with different colors representing the different quadrants of the downtown area.
I saw these signs that were high mounted on posts with a stylized grid color coded. If they conveyed useful levels of detail I missed it, and I'm six feet tall.

The type of signs I've seen elsewhere in vicinity of transit stops are maybe 5' x 5' on kiosks at eye level and about at 1 inch to 50 feet scale showing the neighborhood landmarks, street number range, where the exit stairs are located with respect to entrance stairs to a transit station, and the like.

The subway map of Center City is not that complicated but navigating the station to figure out which creepy corridor to walk down to which platform seems to be easier in other cities.

Google Maps is great but one little symbol on the phone doesn't tell you where the entrance stairs are located with respect to the exit stairs; nor does it tell you there are stairs to access Schuylkill Banks from JFK.

There is still some need for the cartographer's art, and it's chump change cost compared to millions and billions going into the harder transit infrastructure that's already there. Philly has a great unified transit system - take credit for it!
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:22 AM
 
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I'm sorry that your trip didn't work out as well as it should have. I agree that every city should indeed have physical maps available at the main transportation outlets, which includes 30th street station. There should also be intuitive signage.

My take though, as a non-native, but frequent traveler, is that you should have done just a little more homework beforehand. For instance, using the keywords, "Philadelphia tourism" pulls this up: Philadelphia | Visit Philly - Official Visitor and Tourism Site for Philadelphia - visitphilly.com using the keywords, "Philadelphia tourist map" pulls up this from the same site: Maps & Directions — Philadelphia — visitphilly.com

I agree that SEPTA needs better signage. I never noticed because I just get a ticket from the closest regional rail station and use the SEPTA app on my phone. I usually walk once I'm in the city but have taken the Phlash bus a few times, which is included in my rail pass -http://www.septa.org/events/summer.html

I think I've become a more informed traveler just because I've had bad experiences and I don't assume that there will always be maps available, even though there should.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
My take though, as a non-native, but frequent traveler, is that you should have done just a little more homework beforehand. For instance, using the keywords, "Philadelphia tourism" pulls this up: Philadelphia | Visit Philly - Official Visitor and Tourism Site for Philadelphia - visitphilly.com using the keywords, "Philadelphia tourist map" pulls up this from the same site: Maps & Directions — Philadelphia — visitphilly.com
Possibly I did not write my post as well as I should have, but my point was that even after spending hours on sites such as visitphilly, and also on http://universitycity.org/ - the quality and scale of the geographic information presented on these sites, and in and around transit stations falls short of our impressions of peer cities in our current experience.

We did enjoy our visit, and yes I should have remembered to buy tokens at 30th St even though we were walking from there. After not doing that, I simply did not realize the extent to which fare purchase opportunities were limited. One would think many foreigners would come to University City station first from the airport and want to ride a bus. I did not mention earlier there was an impressive display of bus route folder maps in that station lobby, but as I said no token machine and no attendant on duty.

The Race/Vine station situation seemed especially strange - SEPTA was paying an actual attendant at the hour we visited, who was taking cash fare money in exact change to poke patrons through the turnstile. Even if SEPTA didn't want to buy a token machine in its transition period to cards, why not give the fellow a stock of plastic bags of two tokens apiece to sell, even for exact change? Is there not enough room in that booth for half a shoebox? Or is it that they trust their employees so little that think they'll hand out too many free ride tokens?

Web searches in advance did bring up for me the free water works exhibit, The Oval summer festival, and the Sister Cities Park, as I mentioned in my narrative. That was a very good thing, as my daughter was much more in the mood for that kind of thing than the museums on the day of our visit.

However I spent a good hour searching for a PDF map of University City, for example, after spending another close to an hour trying all the platforms I had available to me to get their website visitor information map to work. The closest I came to an online district map was an old thumbnail image in a compendium of Drexel press releases of a map they probably used to have on their website for download, maybe before they switched to the website app (that, as I mentioned, didn't work on the most common user platforms). Yes I did get to their alphabetical by name listing of restaurants in the entire district. That doesn't tell me where I can find kid friendly food within a hungry-kid walking radius of the museum. Fortunately the museum food was at least good enough to avoid the kid meltdown.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,166 posts, read 1,297,252 times
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I didn't have a single problem when I moved here... everything is quite straight forward. The token thing is a bit annoying and I'm excited for them to switch over. There is a CVS in Uni City that sells tokens... I guess one couldn't really know that, though. I remember the first time I ran into a station that didn't have a token machine and I didn't have exact change! That will all be fixed soon.

A lot of stations do not have a dedicated entrance/exit like the ones closer to Old City do, so you can just go up any stairs. I had a lot of fun the first time I got on at 5th street. I believe only one of the entrances has a sign saying that the other station is across the street.

Nothing too inconveniencing though, in my opinion.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:11 AM
 
Location: back in Philadelphia!
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The silly thing is that there's really no reason that tokens have to be so annoying. The real annoying thing is that it was a seemingly deliberate move to make them harder to obtain.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:09 AM
 
186 posts, read 111,632 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
The Race/Vine station situation seemed especially strange - SEPTA was paying an actual attendant at the hour we visited, who was taking cash fare money in exact change to poke patrons through the turnstile. Even if SEPTA didn't want to buy a token machine in its transition period to cards, why not give the fellow a stock of plastic bags of two tokens apiece to sell, even for exact change? Is there not enough room in that booth for half a shoebox? Or is it that they trust their employees so little that think they'll hand out too many free ride tokens?

Web searches in advance did bring up for me the free water works exhibit, The Oval summer festival, and the Sister Cities Park, as I mentioned in my narrative. That was a very good thing, as my daughter was much more in the mood for that kind of thing than the museums on the day of our visit.

However I spent a good hour searching for a PDF map of University City, for example, after spending another close to an hour trying all the platforms I had available to me to get their website visitor information map to work. The closest I came to an online district map was an old thumbnail image in a compendium of Drexel press releases of a map they probably used to have on their website for download, maybe before they switched to the website app (that, as I mentioned, didn't work on the most common user platforms). Yes I did get to their alphabetical by name listing of restaurants in the entire district. That doesn't tell me where I can find kid friendly food within a hungry-kid walking radius of the museum. Fortunately the museum food was at least good enough to avoid the kid meltdown.
I completely agree in SEPTA's lack of user-friendliness. It's built perfectly for 9-5 commuters, and requires a bit of effort for everyone else.

The SEPTA station attendants who can't do cash exchanges is a long running joke amongst Philadelphians..they are also union protected and HIGHLY paid for effectively doing nothing. As many posters alluded to already, the payment system is being completely overhauled and in 6 months SEPTA will feature the most state of the art payment system of any US transit agency.

I will say though, that visitphilly.com's main map of center city does include University City and the PENN museum (it's called Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology):
http://c526532.r32.cf0.rackcdn.com/p...wntown-map.pdf

Which should have allowed you to easily navigate from 30th Street Station down to the Museum (though not a very scenic walk). Regardless of preparedness as others have mentioned, in the age of smartphones, info on where to go and how to get there is always at your fingertips. With little prep, i just spent 2 days navigating Rome with only my iPhone.

Further, if you just search "Philadelphia Map" on iPHone or Android App stores--dozens of Free maps are available including walking tours and suggested routes.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHLondoner View Post
I will say though, that visitphilly.com's main map of center city does include University City and the PENN museum (it's called Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology):
http://c526532.r32.cf0.rackcdn.com/p...wntown-map.pdf

Which should have allowed you to easily navigate from 30th Street Station down to the Museum (though not a very scenic walk). Regardless of preparedness as others have mentioned, in the age of smartphones, info on where to go and how to get there is always at your fingertips. With little prep, i just spent 2 days navigating Rome with only my iPhone.
In my walk down I was able to make it a bit more scenic by seeing on Google Maps there was a pedestrian walk diagonaling through a Drexel block from 32nd and Market to 33rd and Chestnut. (Not shown on the linked map.)
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,166 posts, read 1,297,252 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rotodome View Post
The silly thing is that there's really no reason that tokens have to be so annoying. The real annoying thing is that it was a seemingly deliberate move to make them harder to obtain.
Yeah, and it isn't just the lack of machines and all, but just the general slow down of it all and the constant need to buy them instead of having the ability to load, say, 50 dollars on your card. I certainly don't want to walk around with 50 dollars in tokens in my pocket.
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Old 08-21-2013, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Center City
7,085 posts, read 8,214,674 times
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It is always interesting to see one's home through the eyes of others. I fully understand the OP's frustration with SEPTA. Not only the tokens, but the inability to even purchase them without exact change at many stations, not to mention the lack of actual attendants at many stations. Another experience that would resound with me as a visitor would be the lack of a nice welcoming visitors center with maps at 30th Street Station. And I accept the OP's observation that Philly may be behind its peers in making carless navigation around the city easy in terms of visitor support. His or her visit sounds quite frustrating.

We had a different experience when we arrived on our first trip here in 2009. We had prepared for our visit with a little research before hand. We arrived at PHL and took the train from the airport to 30th Street, transferred via SEPTA to Market & 2nd where we exited and walked a few blocks to our hotel having studied the map we brought beforehand. Although we had our map, we took the free tourist map provided by our hotel and took off by foot to explore Center City for the next 3 days. We found the grid system easy to navigate and CC is well signed (Rittenhouse Square this way, Jewelers' Row that way, etc.).

Perhaps the fact that we did not have use SEPTA to travel from place to place seeking elusive kid-friendly food on that first visit contributed to our very different "carfree first impressions." Since we were looking for a place we could live without a car as opposed to visit for a day, we may have also used a different lens when garnering those first impressions.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
1,567 posts, read 2,663,137 times
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Does anybody know SEPTA's stated reason for not letting those booth attendants give change - you know, like every other cashier on planet Earth?
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