Here’s Why the Subways Ran All Night Last Night

All-night subway service is not a new development during snow storms. But it's still pretty great.

The threat of snow gave many workers in Philadelphia Tuesday off. It also had another benefit: It caused SEPTA to run the Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Line all night.

“When the weather is really bad or bus and trains are suspended,” explains SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams, “the subway and elevated lines… can continue to operate and serve riders during the worst conditions.”

Though SEPTA now operates trains 24 hours on weekend nights, the winter weather service is unrelated to that rollout. Williams says SEPTA has run overnight trains during certain snow storms in all her six years with the transit agency.  Overnight, trains ran every 20 minutes.

SEPTA made several service alterations yesterday due to the snow forecast. Currently, all El trains are making all stops. It dispatched additional track inspectors, maintenance crews, signal maintainers and power crews to deal with any problems caused by the snow. Regional rail trains today are operating on a Saturday schedule. The Cynwyd Line is not operating. Additional Regional Rail info is on SEPTA’s website.

Additionally, at night SEPTA began detouring a series of “historically-affected” bus routes: 7, 9, 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 38, 44, 46, 47, 48, 52, 53, 55, 57, 65, 70, 73, 84, 88, 92, 94, 95, 97, 99, 103, 124, 107, 108, 112, 114 117, 119, 120, 126, G, H, XH, J, K, and L. Since we didn’t end up with that much snow after all, bus service has returned to normal; some buses remain detoured for other reasons.

In other transit news, NJ Transit was scheduled to be closed until Thursday — but light rail has resumed, with trains scheduled to return this afternoon. NJ Transit buses are operating on a limited schedule. PATCO is running on a modified snow schedule. Acela Northeast Regional and Keystone trains are operating on a reduced schedule.

In previous years, SEPTA had run “special trains” on the El overnight to keep snow and ice from the tracks. (“SEPTA is handling the prediction as if it were January in Juneau,” SEPTA wrote in a December 2000 press release. “Special trains may run all night long on the Market-Frankford Line to keep tracks clear of ice and snow.”) SEPTA did run pilot vehicles overnight on the Norristown High Speed Line and all trolley routes, but as of last night did not have any plans to run trains on regional rail lines. SEPTA warned that, due to snow drifts, service on the NHSL could be delayed — though with the smaller snowfall than expected, that seems unlikely. Two-car trains were running every 20 minutes on the NHSL, but service has now returned to normal.

Riders can call customer service at 215-580-7800 or tweet to @SEPTA_SOCIAL with any questions.