Track work on the Ben Franklin Bridge this summer will limit commuters’ ability to carry bikes onto PATCO trains, and provide minor restrictions to bicyclists crossing the bridge on the walkways. It will also close vehicle travel lanes on the bridge.
Starting this Friday, May 30th, the PATCO track on the south side of the bridge will be closed for 60 days. The south side walkway will also be closed, as will certain vehicle travel lanes. After this period, the project will switch to the north side, with corresponding 50-day closures.
PATCO Rush Hour Bike Restrictions
The track work project means only one track crossing the Ben Franklin will be open at a time. PATCO is adjusting its schedules to accommodate peak hour/peak direction passengers. Despite this, large crowds are building at stations as they wait for trains. [1. PATCO will pile up trains on the Philly side ahead of the the PM commute and then send them over one at a time. This means reverse commute trains will be fewer and farther between.]
PATCO tells us they have been monitoring passenger boarding patterns and made the determination that bicycles cause increased delays on the over-crowded train platforms. So PATCO are temporarily restricting bicycles during rush hour in the peak travel direction.
Bikes will not be allowed on the following PATCO weekday trains:
- Trains heading towards Philadelphia from 6:45 – 9:00 AM
- Trains heading away from Philadelphia from 3:45 – 6:00 PM
- Folding bikes are permitted on any train.
Alternate Transit Options to New Jersey With Bike
If you can’t bike your entire trip to and from New Jersey, here are other options:
- PATCO will be installing more bike racks at NJ stations in anticipation of the increased demand.
- There is a handy web app called Transit Locator which can help you find your nearest bus stop and alert you to real-time NJ Transit bus arrivals.
- There is frequent NJ Transit bus service between Center City (via Market, Broad and Vine) and the Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden.
- The Atlantic City Line offers limited rush hour train service between Lindenwold PATCO station and 30th St Station. Each train has the capacity of 6-8 bikes.
- The Riverlink Ferry doesn’t start running until after the AM rush hour but it can be accessed during the afternoon with 4 PM and 5PM departures from Penn’s Landing.
Project Impact on Ben Franklin Bridge Walkways
The project is shutting down the south walkway, shifting all pedestrian and bicycle traffic to the north side walkway. This is scheduled to last until August 2nd, when the shutdown will switch and the north side walkway will be closed for 60 days.
You can access the north walkway in Camden by using the 5th St tunnel, which is ramp accessible (no more curb jumping). In Philadelphia the north walkway gate is located at 5th and New St.
The main inconvenience of the north walkway is that it narrows to a 3 foot wide “cattle chute” for about 500 feet on the east end. This will compel most bicyclists to walk and even cause minor delays if someone is coming from the opposite direction. Allow an extra 5 or 6 minutes to cross. However, when compared to the 30 to 60 minute gaps in the PATCO schedule and the loss of travel lanes, biking over the bridge will be the least disruptive mode of travel during the rush hour.