4 Ways Philly Could Make Public Transit Easier for Kids

Family-forward transit transformations to make Philly more kid-friendly.

public transit septa kids

On the SEPTA Regional Rail, a kid looks out the window as a train passes by. / Photograph by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Because access is everything. Here, a handful of family-forward transit transformations:

Let ’Em Ride

Indego bikes with kids’ seats would be a great addition to the fleet — and bonus points for electric Indegos with kid seats. And hey, Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers: Having a portable booster seat at the ready for littles would be a great service, particularly because Pennsylvania is one of the few states that don’t exempt ride-hailing services from child passenger-safety laws.

Universalize Student Fare

Currently, kids under 12 who are accompanied by a parent ride SEPTA for free; same with students deemed eligible by their schools (though that’s only during school hours, during the school year). We could do more to foster independence in kids from 12 to 18, suggests Dena Driscoll, chair of the urbanist PAC 5th Square, by giving all students a pass for SEPTA that’s valid 24/7 on all lines, regardless of how far they live from school. Via investments from the state, city and school district, we could ease and encourage more transit use for families, she says, while creating “lifelong riders” in the process.

Extend the Subway

One of the city’s greatest play spaces — bike paths! Ship-ogling! Ping-pong! Plane-spotting! Playground! — is also one of its most underused, in part because the Navy Yard still feels separate from the city — and virtually impossible to get to without a car. Extending the Broad Street Line to the Navy Yard will be, in a word, expensive — estimates run somewhere between $869 million and $1.6 billion — but with federal infrastructure money still floating around, now’s the time to go big, especially considering that if Mosaic Development Partners’ $6 billion plan comes to fruition, the Yard will be home to 4,000 residential units, scads of offices, and 37 acres of public space.

Make the Wait Fun

Both Moscow and Montreal installed swings at or near their bus shelters, which is awesome — but not as awesome as the giant slide one Utrecht train station put up to get riders of all ages to their platforms faster. Smaller-scale approaches to funning up transit stops abound, too. How about erecting some mini libraries? Installing simple climbing structures! Commissioning cool public art! Painting some hopscotch on sidewalks! And voilà — a better wait for children and caregivers alike.

>> Click here for 17 Big Ideas to Make Philly a Kid-Friendly City

Published as “Make Transit Truly Easy” in the July 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.