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Philadelphia Subway

Broad Street
Subway-Surface Trolley
Surface Media and Sharon Hill Trolley
Route 15 Trolley


The Market-Frankford Line (MFL) (also called the Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated Line (MFSE), Market-Frankord El (MFE), Market-Frankford (MF) El or Blue Line) is a rapid transit line in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, operated by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.


The Market Frankford Line begins at 69th Street Terminal just west of the city line in Upper Darby and runs on a private right-of-way to the city line. From there it is elevated over Market Street until 46th Street, where it curves off to the north and heads underground, with a portal at 45th Street. At 42nd Street, the tunnel returns to the alignment of Market Street.

At 32nd Street, the tunnel carrying the Subway-Surface lines joins the MFL tunnel. The MFL tracks are in the center and the trolley tracks are on the outside. Several stops have access to only the Subway-Surface lines, and the Subway-Surface tracks end in a loop at 13th and Juniper Streets, just after crossing under the Broad Street Line.

The Market Street tunnel continues east to Front Street, and then turns north, where it rises in the median of I-95. I-95 and the line become elevated, and the line heads under the southbound lanes and above Front Street on an elevated structure. The line turns northeast onto Kensington Avenue, which merges with Frankford Avenue. Just north of Bridge Street, a quick curve to the northwest and then to the northeast bring the line to the surface and its terminus at the Frankford Transportation Center.


During rush hours (trains beginning from approximately 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.), SEPTA uses skip-stop operation. Trains marked "A" stop only at the stations marked "A" and "All Trains" on system maps, and "B" trains stop only at "B" and "All Trains" stations. Trains run on the line approximately from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., and buses provide night service from midnight to 5:30 a.m.

In FY 2005, 25,220,523 passengers rode the Market Frankford Line, with 178,715 average weekday passengers, making the Market Frankford Line the busiest line in the entire SEPTA system. The Market-Frankford Line required 142 vehicles at peak hours, and cost $86,644,614 in fully allocated expenses, but collected $54,309,344 in passenger revunes, for a farebox recovery ratio of 63 percent.[1]


A bridge to carry the line across the Schuylkill River, just north of Market Street, was built from July 1903 to August 1905. Construction on the Market Street Elevated began on October 17, 1904, and the line opened on March 4, 1907 from 69th to a loop around City Hall at 15th. The line was elevated west of the river and underground east of the river. The tunnel was also used by streetcar lines, now SEPTA's Subway-Surface lines, that entered the line just east of the river, and turned around at the City Hall loop.

Extensions took the line east to 2nd Street on August 3, 1908, and via several curves to the Delaware River between Market Street and Chestnut Street on September 7, 1908. The Delaware Avenue Elevated (also called the Ferry Line, because of the multiple ferries across the river) opened on October 4, 1908 as a further extension south along the river to South Street. The only two stations on this extension were Market-Chestnut and South Street.

The Frankford Elevated opened on November 5, 1922[1], with trains from 69th alternating between Frankford and the Ferry Line. In 1937, operations were changed to use the Ferry Line only during the day, and not at all on Sunday. In 1939 the line to the ferries was closed. The structure was demolished.

A new section of tunnel from 22nd Street, where the Market-Frankford line started rising towards the Schuylkill River, to 32nd Street was built in the 1930s, but funding had run out. Construction resumed in 1947, and the current configuration opened on November 6, 1955. The old elevated structure was removed by June 20, 1956. New stations for the trolleys were constructed at 22nd, 30th, 33rd@Ludlow, 36th@Sansom, and 37th@Spruce. The 24th Street trolley station was abandoned. New stations on the MFL were built at 40th, 34th, 30th.

Skip-stop operation was begun on January 30, 1956. In addition to the A and B stops shown on the map above, 2nd and 34th Sts. were "A" stations until the late 1970s, and Fairmount Avenue (replaced by Spring Garden St.) was a "B" station. As I-95 was built through Center City Philadelphia in the late 1970s, part of the Frankford El was relocated to I-95's median, and the Fairmount station was replaced with Spring Garden, on May 15, 1977. A new tunnel was built for the Subway-Surface lines under Market Street as far west as 33rd Street, then south under 33rd Street, then west under Ludlow Street to 36th Street, then south under 36th Street to Woodland Avenue, then west under Woodland Avenue to the 40th Street Portal.

SEPTA has completed, in 2003, replacement of the old Bridge-Pratt terminal with a new $160,000,000 Frankford Transportation Center located on private right-of-way. [2]

Currently, SEPTA is undertaking a $567,000,000[3] complete reconstruction of the Market Street Elevated between Millbourne and the 46th Street Portal. The new Market Street Elevated, consisting of a single-pier viaduct, will allow PennDOT to widen Market Street to four lanes without having elevated supports impeding the flow of traffic between 60th Street and 44th Street. The project has already reconstructed 56th Street Station and also includes the reconstruction of 46th Street, 52nd Street, 60th Street, 63rd Street, and Millbourne Stations. The Construction is slated to be completed by 2008 or 2009.[4]

Popular Culture[]

The relatively unknown rock band The American Dream released a song about the Market-Frankford Line in 1969 entitled "Frankford El".

The Hooters, another Philadelphia-born rock band, released the song "Beat Up Guitar" which references the Market-Frankford Line, repeatedly claiming that "You can't get to Heaven on the Frankford El/'Cause the Frankford El goes straight to Frankford."

The M-3 cars appear in the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd comedy Trading Places and in Rocky.

Station list[]

Miles Station A B Photo Connections Notes
0.0 69th Street Terminal A B aerial 100, 101 & 102. Please see station page for bus connections.
0.4 Millbourne B aerial
0.8 63rd Street A aerial 21, 31
1.1 60th Street A B aerial 31, 46
1.5 56th Street A B aerial 31, G rebuilt station opened February 27, 2006
1.9 52nd Street A B aerial 31, 52
2.5 46th Street B aerial 31, 64
3.2 40th Street A B 30, 40, LUCY Gold, LUCY Green; diverted/nighttime routes of Subway-Surface lines original station at 36th Street
3.7 34th Street A B 31, LUCY Gold, LUCY Green original station at 32nd Street
4.1 30th Street A B 9, 30, 31, 44, 121, 124, 125, LUCY Gold, LUCY Green, Amtrak and SEPTA Regional Rail. Free transfer to Subway-Surface Lines.
5.1 15th Street A B 4, 16, 17, 27, 31, 32, 33, 38, 44, 48, 62, 78, 124 and 125. SEPTA Regional Rail Lines at Suburban Station. Free transfer to Subway-Surface Lines and Broad Street Line.
5.4 13th Street A B 17, 33, 44, 48, 121, 124, 125. Free transfer to Subway-Surface Lines.
5.6 11th Street A B 23; Regional Rail at Market East
5.8 8th Street A B 47, 61; Broad-Ridge Spur, PATCO Speedline
6.0 5th Street A B
6.3 2nd Street A B 5
7.1 Spring Garden A B aerial 25, 43 this station replaced the Fairmount station when I-95 was built
7.8 Girard A B aerial 15
8.5 Berks A aerial 3
8.9 York-Dauphin B aerial 3, 39, 89 split between York northbound and Dauphin southbound
9.3 Huntingdon A aerial 3, 39
9.6 Somerset B aerial 3, 54
10.2 Allegheny A B aerial 3, 60, 89
10.6 Tioga A aerial 3, 89
11.3 Erie-Torresdale A B aerial 3, 56 originally called Torresdale
11.8 Church B aerial 3, 5
12.3 Arrott Transportation Center A B aerial 3, 5, 59, 75, 89, J, K originally called Orthodox-Margaret
12.9 Frankford Transportation Center A B aerial 3, 5, 8, 14, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 50, 58, 66, 67, 73, 84, 88, R originally called Bridge-Pratt

External links[]


Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
City Transit Division Market-Frankford Line - Broad Street Line - Subway-Surface Lines - Girard Avenue Trolley (Route 15) - City surface routes
Suburban Division Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) - Suburban Trolley Lines (Routes 101 & 102) - Suburban bus routes
Regional Rail R1 - R2 - R3 - R5 - R6 - R7 - R8
Major Stations Frankford Transportation Center - Market East Station - Suburban Station - 30th Street Station - 69th Street Terminal
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