Merion Station, PA

Pandemic Precautions on Philly's Paoli/Thorndale Line

Roz Warren
Welcome to COVID-Safe travel on SEPTA!photo by author

Last week, I did something I haven’t done for over a year. I took SEPTA from Merion Station into Center City. I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m still a bit of a Nervous Nelly when it comes to pandemic travel. So what was it like?

Merion Station
Merion Stationphoto by author

 I couldn’t have felt safer at Merion Station. Not only were there signs everywhere telling passengers to mask up and maintain an appropriate distance -- but I was the only person on the platform! 

On the R-5.

When the train pulled into the station, I was welcomed aboard by a conductor who wearing a fun mask with a big wide smile on it. What a great way to start to my first ride on the R-5 in months!

The car I boarded had signs on many of the seats to encourage social distancing, both they weren't strictly necessary on this particular trip because there were only 12 passengers in the entire car.
SEPTA train COVID safety signphoto by author

Of my twelve fellow passengers, ten were wearing their masks properly, but two wore theirs around their chins rather than over their noses. Why? I'm guessing it's because both were talking on their phones.

Although signed posted everywhere -- and more than one announcment -- told passengers to mask up, these two Chatty Cathys seemed to believe that you didn’t have to wear a mask if you were talking on the phone.

Since both phone gabbers were seated yards away from their fellow travelers, I felt safe enough. But now that pandemic-related limits on the number of customers allowed on SEPTA trains have been removed, and cars can start filling up again, this kind of behavior could — and should — change. 

Arriving at 30th Street Station

When we arrived at 30th Street Station, passengers took care to maintain a good distance from each other while leaving the train. And the folks on the platform waiting to board the train, who were all properly masked, all gave each other plenty of space as well.

The takeaway? My SEPTA trip to 30th Station was quick, easy and COVID-safe. And because I’m 66 — it was free!

I’m glad to be back on SEPTA and look forward to riding again soon.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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