Accidentally getting on the wrong train and then blowing past your destination because you got on the "A" El train instead of the "B" will be a thing of the past.
SEPTA is ending its long-standing skip-stop service on the Market-Frankford Line during rush hour, meaning there will no longer be "A" trains and "B" trains that stop at every other station. All trains will stop at all stations starting Feb. 23, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch confirmed Wednesday.
The decision, made last week, is meant to address wait times at stations, Busch said, particularly those on the east side of the line — like the Berks Station — that have seen a surge of riders in the last several years as more commuters took up residence in Fishtown and Kensington.
Currently, eight stations are A or B stations that are skipped by every other train during peak times: On the east are Berks, York-Dauphin, Huntingdon, Somerset, Tioga, and Church; on the west are 63rd and Millbourne.
The change will be coupled with schedule changes and an increase in the frequency of trains running, especially during peak hours. Those adjustments will be announced in the coming weeks.
The A-B system dates to the mid-20th century and was created to better distribute passengers during peak travel times on weekdays. The idea was that if trains stopped at every other stop (outside the all-stop stations with the highest ridership figures) there would be a longer time for passengers to board, thus preventing further overcrowding.
Busch said officials believe eliminating the A/B stops will be a “service enhancement,” especially for customers who use stations that are skipped and who will now have shorter wait times. Officials don’t expect the change will lengthen wait times for other customers, and Busch said the to-be-announced adjustments the authority is making in tandem with the skip-stop elimination will address capacity issues.
SEPTA officials studied the impacts of shortening skip-stop service in spring 2018. Busch said the response to the pilot was almost entirely positive.
Prior to this announcement, the stops that were skipped were evaluated by SEPTA on a regular basis and some were changed over the last several decades. For example, 34th Street used to be skipped by every other train, but it was converted to an all-stop location in 1994. The same thing happened with 46th Street in 2007.