There are a variety of very wheelchair friendly transportation options in and around Philadelphia. Whether you are looking to get to or from the airport or tour the historic city attractions - your guaranteed an accessible, comfortable transportation experience. Below you will find the information you need to make Philadelphia easily accessible.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 580-7800
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is a regional public transportation authority that operates various forms of public transit services—bus, commuter & light rail and elevated rail, subway and electric trolleybus—that serve 3.9 million people in five counties in and around Philadelphia. All buses are accessible on its "fixed route" system.
SEPTA operates a huge transit system and they meet federal guidelines on accessibility. However you should be mindful that the rail and subway system is only partially accessible. Only about 100 stations are accessible. The website above provides a clickable map showing which stations are accessible.
All SEPTA buses are accessible on its "fixed route" system. This is an excellent accessible system and you do not need to concerned about station accessibility as the buses run on above ground streets.
The SEPTA regional rail system has commuter, elevated and light rail but only about 100 stations are wheelchair accessible. Importantly the rail between the airport terminals and City Center is wheelchair accessible. There are 3 stations at City Center and all are accessible. Many of the accessible stations in the system however use elevators that from time to time don't work. The SEPTA website above provides a hotline number to call in case of emergency. Some elevators are operated by Amtrak and others 3rd parties.
The SEPTA Trolley routes have very limited accessibility. SEPTA operates 8 trolley routes but only #15 along Girard Ave. is wheelchair accessible.
The SEPTA subway has some accessibility but not all stations are accessible with elevators. I would recommend caution.
Technology may well be on its way in Philadelphia - time for Uber and Lyft. Only time will tell when it comes accessible taxis in Philly. Historically it's been very frustrating trying to track down a wheelchair accessible taxi in Philadelphia. Until July 2017 I found none - maybe 2 taxis for the entire city.
I called Phila Taxi Service, All Three Taxi Cabs, Philadelphia Taxicab and City Cab. None of these companies operate wheelchair accessible taxis.
I also called Freedom Taxi which advertises accessible vehicles. Initially they stated they could not schedule a ride but later said they might. Not reassuring! You can reach them at 215-222-9999 but be cautioned.
I also called 215-Get-A-Cab which promotes itself as Philadelphia largest taxi service. They state they operate 1 wheelchair accessible taxi but it was not available when I called, nor would they schedule a ride. So much for Philly's premier taxi service.
Finally I emailed the Philadelphia Parking Authority and a Deputy Director responded stating that as of July 2017 Uber and Lyft are offering a total of 80 Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs as they are called in Philly). Uber itself started offering 70 WAVs. Read the recent July 2017 article from BizPhilly
NOTE: Next time I'll try Uber or Lyft which now hopefully operate WAVs in Philadelphia. Please let me know if anyone tries this newly launched service in Philly.
Philadelphia Big Bus
30 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 389-8687
The Philadelphia Big Bus operates 6 tour buses and all are wheelchair accessible and operated year round. This is a great way to tour Philadelphia.
The Big Bus is more expensive than the Philly PHLASH but it operates year round and you get a narrated tour.
They also operate trolley cars that are not wheelchair accessible.
Philadelphia PHLASH Downtown Loop
Phone: (800) 537-7676
The Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop™ is the most convenient and affordable way for visitors to get around Philadelphia.years. Managed by the Independence Visitor Center, the PHLASH is a seasonal transit service that runs weekend-only service (Friday – Sunday) from March 23 – April 30; and September 8 – November 19. The PHLASH runs daily service from May 1 – September 4; and November 24 – December 31.
The PHLASH route provides access to 22 stops, located near must-see attractions. On service days, the PHLASH runs 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m, providing service to each stop every 15 minutes. All PHLASH vehicles are temperature-controlled and wheelchair-accessible.
The PHLASH is only $2 per ride or $5 per day. Children 4 and under, senior citizens, SEPTA Pass and Key holders always ride free! Purchase onboard with cash only and exact change, at at any Visitor Center location, or online.
The Philadelphia PHLASH is wheelchair accessible and a great way to tour Philadelphia attractions.
Service times are seasonal but it's convenient and reasonably priced.
Accessible Van Rentals
Accessible van rentals are expensive and cost $100-$150 per day plus mileage but they are convenient (I often rent them). Many charge an additional fee for delivery and pick-up services. Some rental companies will not add hand controls or provide transfer/swivel seats, preferring to rent to able bodied persons who drive persons confined to wheelchairs. The Philadelphia area has limited van rental options.
Mobility Works below is located in Norristown, about 40 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport. They charge $120-130 per day plus a pickup/deliver fee of $300. Wheelers has 2 MV 1 vehicles which rent for approximately $140 per day and $100 pickup/deliver fee each way. The MV 1 works well for wheelchair travelers who are passengers but are not equipped with hand controls for wheelchair drivers.
925 South Trooper Rd. Norristown, PA 19403
Wheelers Accessible Van Rentals
3520 Indian Queen Lane Philadelphia, PA 19129
30th Street Station
2955 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104
There are 2 stations in Philadelphia: the 30th St Station and North Philadelphia Station.
The 30th St Station has a wheelchair waiting area, platform and accessible restroom. The North Philadelphia Station does not.
Amtrak is essentially owned and operated by the U.S. Government. It is very aware of ADA regulations and is quite accommodating of wheelchairs. Seating for wheelchairs is limited so call in advance and inform Amtrak of any special needs. Seating is on the lower level on specific railway cars equipped with fully ADA compliant restrooms.
- Certain cars are also equipped for overnight wheelchair passenger sleeping. There is a small separate room which includes an accessible bathroom. I've been in these cars and it's tight but accessible.
- All trains are accessible from the loading platform by a removable ramp which the conductor puts in place for wheelchair passengers.
- Dining and lounge areas are on the second level and are not generally accessible. Conductors, however, are available to bring food and beverages to passengers requiring assistance.