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September 07, 2015

The Papal Bull-etin: Everything you need to know about Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia

Whether you're trekking into Center City or staying home, here's what you need to know

Pope Francis is visiting Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27. From event tickets to road closures to security perimeters and altered public transit schedules, here's what you need to know to see the Holy Father:

If you plan to attend

• Pope Francis will make his first public appearance at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 at Independence Mall, where he will deliver a speech on immigration and religious liberty. He will then appear at the Festival of Families at 7:30 p.m. on the Parkway, an event expected to draw 800,000 people. 

• The biggest event of the weekend happens Sunday, Sept. 27. Some 1.5 million people are expected to flood the Parkway when Pope Francis delivers a 4 p.m. Mass at Eakins Oval. For many, it will be reminiscent of the Mass said by Pope John Paul II at Logan Square in October 1979.

• Pope Francis will parade down the Parkway twice during the weekend, giving pilgrims an opportunity to see him up-close. The first parade will occur prior to the Festival of Families. Pope Francis will be driven down the Parkway from Eakins Oval, around City Hall, and back up to Eakins Oval. A second, smaller parade is slated for Sunday, but exact details have not been announced.

• Be prepared to walk — and possibly stand idly for hours. As detailed below, Center City will be closed to most vehicular traffic. Massive crowds are expected to flock onto the Parkway and Independence Mall long before Pope Francis arrives. There will be food and beverage vendors available. 

• Secure perimeters, in which visitors must pass through metal detectors, will be established around the Parkway and Independence Mall. (See map below.) The Parkway perimeter opens at 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25. The Independence Mall perimeter will open at 6 a.m. Saturday. Pilgrims are prohibited from bringing bicycles, hard coolers, drones, packages, selfie sticks and glass, thermal or metal containers. Backpacks and signs are limited to certain restrictions. A full listing of prohibited items can be found here

•The areas in green and black on the map will be open only to ticket-holders. The area in orange will be open to the people who go through security screenings. The light blue area is the traffic box, where incoming traffic is not allowed. 

• Tickets are required to access the areas providing the best views of Pope Francis. Only ticketed attendees can access the portion of the Parkway extending from 20th Street to Eakins Oval. Tickets are being distributed by event organizers to the 219 parishes comprising the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Another 10,000 free tickets to each Parkway event will be made available online to the public Wednesday, Sept. 9 on a first-come, first-serve basis.

• Tickets also are needed to watch Pope Francis speak at Independence Mall. Those tickets were freely distributed online Tuesday, Sept. 8 on a first-come, first-serve basis. They were claimed within two minutes.

• Forty Jumbotrons will be placed throughout Center City to broadcast live papal events and other programming beginning at 6 a.m. Live broadcasts involving Pope Francis include his airport arrival, a cathedral Mass, his speech at Independence Hall, the Festival of Families and the public papal Mass.

• Major highways will be shut down and most private vehicles will be restricted from entering a "traffic box," also known as the Francis Festival Grounds, encompassing Center City and surrounding neighborhoods, as detailed more fully below.

• The region's public transit systems all will be operating on amended schedules, as also detailed below. Many trains require passengers to purchase special passes to ride.

If you plan to take SEPTA

• SEPTA is closing most stations on its regional rail, subway, trolley and high speed lines in an attempt to shuttle passengers into Center City as quickly as possible. The boarding stations that will open are shown on the map below (Since releasing the map, SEPTA has since announced several additional stations along the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines also will be open, but they are not indicated on the map):

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• Special papal passes are required to ride SEPTA's regional rails on Saturday and Sunday. No other fares will be permitted. The transit agency made 175,000 papal passes available for each day. The passes — which remain available — need to be purchased in advance. Parking outside SEPTA's stations will be limited.

• SEPTA has published an interactive map showing snapshots of parking locations, customer drop-off and pick-up points, customer staging areas, road closures and vehicle access points at each of the 18 outlying Regional Rail stations.

• The Airport Line will operate inbound and outbound trains every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. Passengers will need to purchase a one-day papal pass, available for purchase in airport terminals. Local residents and other visitors can pay to park in the airport lot and take the Airport Line into Center City. Those with pre-purchased papal passes will get priority boarding between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. After 8 a.m., weekly and monthly passes also will be accepted as valid fares.

• Special three-day passes are necessary to the ride the Norristown High Speed Line and Trolley routes 101 and 102. The $10 passes, made available via online lottery, are the only acceptable fare for Saturday and Sunday. The passes also are valid Monday, Sept. 28, when standard fares again are accepted.

• SEPTA also will sell three-day passes to ride its subways, buses and remaining trolleys during the papal visit. The passes are on sale for $10 apiece. However, standard tokens and passes also will be accepted on those transit modes.

• The Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines will operate inbound and outbound trains from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. However, the lines only will stop at select stops, listed here.

• The following SEPTA city bus routes will operate on weekday schedules on Saturday and Sunday: 3, 5, 6, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31, 33, 42, 47, 50, 52, 55, 58, 66, 70 and R. The following suburban bus routes also will operate on a weekday schedule: 99, 103, 104, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112, 113, 123, 124, 125, 201 and 206. Another 28 bus routes and the Route 10 trolley will be suspended. Affected routes will be posted on SEPTA's website

• Bicycles will not be permitted on SEPTA trains or inside transit vehicles.

If you plan to take New Jersey Transit

• Special tickets will be required to ride the Atlantic City Rail Line and the River Line. Both lines will operate on a limited schedule on Saturday and Sunday. No other fares, including monthly passes, Family SuperSaver or cash, will be accepted on either line. 

• Special tickets for the Atlantic City Rail Line can be pre-purchased here. Special tickets for the River Line can be bought at the following stations — Trenton, Bordentown, Florence, Burlington South, Route 73/Pennsauken and Pennsauken Transportation Center.

• The Atlantic City Rail Line will operate hourly express trips from the Atlantic City Rail Terminal to 30th Street Station beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The last train leaves Atlantic City at 3 p.m. The trains will not stop at any other stops.

• Following the Festival of Families on Saturday, trains will depart 30th Street Station at 10 p.m. and operate every 30 minutes. Following the Sunday Mass, trains will leave at 7 p.m. and operate every 30 minutes.

• The River Line will offer limited service beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Trains only will stop at Bordentown, Florence, Burlington South, Route 73/Pennsauken, Pennsauken Transit Center and the Walter Rand Transportation Center. Trains will not operate beyond the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden due to expected crowded road conditions.

• Following the papal events, River Line trains will depart Walter Rand Transportation Center on a load-and-go basis.

• No bicycles will be permitted aboard NJ Transit trains.

• All bus routes that typically travel into Center City will terminate at the Walter Rand Transportation Center. Additional bus service will operate on Route 419, which runs along the River Line between Burlington Towne Centre and Camden. Enhanced service will be provided on Route 554 from Atlantic City to Lindenwold. No special ticketing is needed for bus service.

• Access Link service to and from Philadelphia will be suspended Friday through Monday. Service will resume Tuesday, Sept. 29.

If you plan to take PATCO

• PATCO will provide express, non-stop service westbound to its 10th and Locust streets station in Center City from four New Jersey stops — Lindenwold, Woodcrest, Ferry Avenue and Broadway. Return trips departing Center City only will stop at those four stations.

• Only passengers who have pre-purchased Freedom cards will be able to ride. The passes can be purchased until Sept. 1 at the agency's Broadway Station and on its website.

• Parking will be limited at the stations. It is not available at the Broadway station in Camden.

If you plan to drive

• Major roadways begin closing near Philadelphia at 10 p.m. Friday. The Schuylkill Expressway will be closed eastbound from I-476 to I-95 and westbound from I-95 to City Avenue. The entire Vine Street Expressway will be closed. City Avenue will be closed from Lancaster Avenue to Belmont Avenue.

• The Benjamin Franklin Bridge will be limited to pedestrian traffic beginning at 10 p.m. Friday. It will not reopen until sometime Monday. In New Jersey, I-676 will be closed westbound from Exit 3 to the bridge. The Admiral Wilson Boulevard will be closed westbound from Airport Circle to the bridge.

• I-95 will remain open, but traffic will be diverted at some ramps.

• The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation launched a website that provides real-time traffic conditions on regional highways. It also includes details on the best paths to reach the papal venues and diversionary routes. 

• Only buses registered with the World Meeting of Families will be able to enter the "traffic box" engulfing Center City. Aside from emergency vehicles, no other vehicles will be permitted to enter from 6 p.m. Friday until sometime Monday.

• Heading east to west, the "traffic box" encompasses an area from the Delaware River to 38th Street in West Philly. Its southern border is South Street. Its northern border runs, east to west, along Spring Garden Street, Ridge Avenue and Girard Avenue. See the map below (note: the blue area goes into effect Friday at 6 p.m. while the purple area goes into effect the same day at 10 p.m.):

If you plan to take a taxi or UberBlack

• Taxi cabs and UberBlack service will be permitted to access the "traffic box" until 2 a.m. Saturday. They may re-enter at 3 a.m. Monday.

• Twenty-seven taxis compliant with American with Disabilities Act will be permitted to drive within the traffic box at all times.

If you plan to bike

• Biking figures to be a popular transportation mode. Bicyclists will be able to travel over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and into the Center City "traffic box."

• Indego, the city's new ridesharing bike program, will keep four bike stations open. Those locations are Rittenhouse Square, Front and Dock streets, 30th Street, and Spring Garden and Broad streets. All other docking stations will close.

• The accessibility of the Schuylkill River trail remains in question. Sufficient bike corrals for cyclists to lock their bikes also remain in doubt.

• Bicycles will not be permitted on New Jersey Transit trains or buses. SEPTA is forbidding bicycles on its regional rail service or inside transit vehicles.

If you plan to cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge

• The Ben Franklin Bridge will be limited to pedestrian traffic beginning at 10 p.m. Friday until sometime Monday — possibly as late as noon. Walking from New Jersey to Center City is expected to take pedestrians several hours. Pedestrians will not need to pass through security checkpoints to access the bridge.

• Parking in Camden will be limited — no private parking is available — making it difficult to drive and park near the bridge. I-676 westbound will be closed from Exit 3 to the bridge. The Admiral Wilson Boulevard also will be closed westbound from Airport Circle to the bridge.

• New Jersey officials advise walkers to find a place to stay overnight in Philadelphia. Those returning should bring a flashlight for when night falls.

If you plan to take the RiverLink ferry

• The RiverLink Ferry, which operates between Camden and Philadelphia, will operate from Friday to Monday with extended hours. The cost is $7 each way, and tickets must be purchased online, with no refunds available.

If you plan to travel from the airport

• SEPTA's Airport Line will operate inbound and outbound trains every 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. Passengers will need to purchase a one-day papal pass, available for purchase in airport terminals, before boarding. No tickets will be sold on the trains. 

• Local residents and other visitors can pay to park in the airport lot and take the Airport Line into Center City. Passengers with pre-purchased papal passes will get priority boarding between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. After 8 a.m., weekly and monthly passes also will be accepted as valid fares.

• Taxi cabs and UberBlack service will be permitted to access the "traffic box" engulfing Center City until 2 a.m. Saturday. They may re-enter at 3 a.m. Monday.

If you live within the 'traffic box'

• Heading east to west, the "traffic box" encompasses an area from the Delaware River to 38th Street in West Philly. Its southern border is South Street. Its northern border runs, east to west, along Spring Garden Street, Ridge Avenue and Girard Avenue.

• Only emergency vehicles, bicycles and buses registered with the World Meeting of Families will be able to enter. No other vehicles will be permitted to enter from 6 p.m. Friday until sometime Monday.

• Residents living within the 'traffic box' may drive their vehicles throughout it, but should be prepared for difficulties caused by massive crowds. Vehicles also can exit the box but may not re-enter until the box is disbanded Monday.

• A secure vehicle perimeter — in which no vehicles are permitted — will be established around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Mall. All parked vehicles must be moved from within this area, outlined by the black line on the map below.

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• Two additional fenced security perimeters, located in red on the map above, sit within the secure vehicle perimeter. Visitors must pass through metal detectors to enter those areas. 

• The secure vehicle perimeter and the fenced secure perimeter around the Parkway will be constructed at 10 p.m. Thursday. The Independence Mall fenced perimeter will go up at 10 p.m. Friday.

• Towing will begin on Sunday, Sept. 20 in preparation for the placement of fencing along the Parkway and Independence Mall. All secure zones must be cleared by Wednesday, Sept. 23. Signs will be posted on Sept. 14 warning of the planned towing. A map indicating the varied times residents must remove their vehicles is below (click on the list icon on the upper left-hand sign for a map legend).

• There are six Philadephia Parking Authority garages with 2,000 total spaces available. The garage locations are at 16th and Vine streets, 15th and Arch streets, Second and Sansom streets, 10th and Ludlow streets, Ninth and Filbert streets, and Eighth and Chestnut streets. The Naval Hospital Lot, at 1600 Pattison Ave, with 1,500 spaces, will offer free parking.

• Residents who pre-purchase a weekend-long pass to a Philadelphia Parking Authority garage space will be able to remain parked on the street until Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. They must place an exemption placard in their vehicle to prevent it from towing. Once a vehicle has entered one of the garages, it must remain there until Sept. 28. Pre-purchased tickets cost $20 for the weekend.

• Residents also can call Luxe, a private valet parking service, to pick up a car and move it out of the restricted areas. The fee is $20 per day. Residents can email Philly@luxe.com or register here

If you live in Lower Merion

• Pope Francis will be staying at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary on East Wynnewood Road. Road closures are expected to create significant traffic congestion. Crowds are expected to gather near the seminary, as people hope to catch a glimpse of the pope.

• City Avenue will be closed from Lancaster Avenue to Belmont Avenue from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. 

• Lower Merion officials have said residents will be able to get to their homes by car. Residential parking passes have been distributed to preserve local street parking for residents. Those living near the seminary's entrance on East Wynnewood Road will need to enter their property through a checkpoint.

• Ensuring access to Lankenau Medical Center, located across the from the seminary, will be paramount. Lower Merion officals said parking will be available at the medical center for those with a reason to be there. Lancaster Avenue will remain open. 

• Helicopters are expected to land and take off from the seminary; Lower Merion officials said the pope is expected to use a helicopter to get to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on Sunday. 

Businesses/Restaurants in Center City

• Mayor Michael Nutter and event organizers are encouraging Center City businesses to remain open during the papal visit. Reading Terminal Market, McGillin's Olde Ale House, Del Frisco's Double Edge Steakhouse, Jack's Firehouse, Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks are among the eateries committed to remaining open. Wawa also will remain open.

• Businesses located within the 'traffic box' — but outside the secure vehicle zone — can get deliveries or have trash collected between midnight and 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Trucks must be less than 28-foot-long. Trucks entering the outer ring will not need to be screened. There are no designated entry areas.

• Businesses within the secure vehicle zone must have all delivery vehicles screened. Entry points will be announced later.

• The Philadelphia Department of Commerce launched a business resource center designed to assist businesses affected by the papal visit. Businesses can call 215-683-2100 with questions, including those concerning employees and operations, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you are pregnant or need medical assistance

• Several Center City hospitals sit within the 'traffic box' – Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Hospital. Penn Presbyterian Medical Center sits on the 38th Street border.

• Pregnant women will be able to travel through the restricted "traffic box" to deliver at their preferred facility, though specific details have not been announced. Other patients, such as the chronically ill, also will be able to travel through the "traffic box."

• The city has not announced its emergency preparedness plan, but emergency vehicles will be able to travel into the "traffic box." First aid tents are expected to be scattered throughout the parkway to provide assistance to pilgrims falling ill. Those requiring additional treatment will be taken to a medical facility by Philadelphia Fire and EMS officials.

• Hospitals have planned staff increases, hospital sleep-ins and supply boosts. Non-emergency services are not expected to be curtailed. Surgeries and chemotherapy treatments will be scheduled for the convenience of the patient, according to Mark Ross, healthcare emergency preparedness manager for the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

What to expect at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

• A secure perimeter will be constructed at 10 p.m. Thursday in preparation for the weekend's Parkway events — the Festival of Families on Saturday and the papal mass on Sunday. The area, in which all pilgrims must pass through metal detectors, will open to pedestrians at 6 a.m. Friday.

• Pilgrims are prohibited from bringing bicycles, hard coolers, drones, packages, selfie sticks and glass, thermal or metal containers. Backpacks and signs are limited to certain restrictions. A full listing of prohibited items can be found here

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• Pope Francis will parade down the Parkway twice during the weekend, giving pilgrims an opportunity to see him up-close. The first parade will occur prior to the Festival of Families. Pope Francis will be driven down the Parkway from Eakins Oval, around City Hall, and back up to Eakins Oval. A second, smaller parade is slated for Sunday, but exact details have not been announced.

• Only ticketed attendees can access the portion of the Parkway extending from 20th Street to Eakins Oval. Those tickets are being distributed by event organizers to the 219 parishes comprising the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Another 10,000 free tickets to each Parkway event will be made available online to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 9 on a first-come, first-serve basis.

• Ticketed pilgrims can access the Parkway by passing through security checkpoints at the following locations: Pennsylvania Avenue at the intersection of North 23rd and Spring Garden streets, North 22nd at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street, Hamilton Street between North 21st and North 22nd streets, North 21st Street between Hamilton Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, North 20th Street at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Callowhill Street, North 20th and Race streets, and North 21st and Winter streets. 

• Non-ticket holders can access the Parkway area from 20th Street to City Hall. For Saturday's Festival of Families, pilgrims can enter through security checkpoints at the following intersections: North 15th and Cherry streets, North Broad and Cherry streets, South Broad and Chestnut streets, South 15th and Chestnut streets, South 17th and Market streets, and South 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. For the papal Mass on Sunday, pilgrims must pass through security checkpoints at North 19th and Wood streets, North 18th and Cherry streets, and North 19th and Cherry streets.

• Jumbotrons will be placed throughout the Parkway to broadcast the Festival of Families and papal Mass, among other events.

• Suggested walking routes, outlined in green, are included on the map above.

What to expect at Independence Mall

• A secure perimeter will be built at 10 p.m. Friday in preparation for Pope Francis' speech Saturday outside Independence Hall. The area, in which all pilgrims must pass through metal detectors, will open to the public at 6 a.m. Saturday.

• Pilgrims are prohibited from bringing bicycles, hard coolers, drones, packages, selfie sticks and glass, thermal or metal containers. Backpacks and signs are limited to certain restrictions. A full listing of prohibited items can be found here.

• Tickets are required to access Independence Mall when Pope Francis delivers his speech. A total of 10,000 tickets were freely distributed online Tuesday, Sept. 8 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets also are being distributed by event organizers to ethnic apostolates and immigrant communities through the Archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries.

• Pilgrims can enter Independence Mall through security checkpoints at the following intersections: North Fourth and Market streets, North Fourth and Chestnut streets, North Fifth and Race streets, North Fifth and Arch streets, and North Sixth and Race streets.

• Jumbotrons will be placed throughout the Mall to broadcast Pope Francis' speech on immigration, among other papal events.

If you are a student

• The School District of Philadelphia and Archdiocesan schools will be closed from Wednesday, Sept. 23 through Friday, Sept. 25.

• All Philadelphia public schools and administrative offices will also be closed Monday, Sept. 28. 

If you are traveling from Delaware County

• Delaware County Council has put together a coordinated safety plan with resources for residents of its municipalities. Detailed information can be found here

Pope Francis' Philly schedule

Saturday, Sept. 26

Morning:

• Private arrival: Atlantic Aviation

• The Cathedral Mass with Pope Francis: The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Afternoon:

• Greeting of the Holy Father by the Seminarians: Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood

• “We Hold These Truths”: An address by Pope Francis. Outdoors on Independence Mall

Evening:

• The Festival of Families: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Sunday, Sept. 27

Morning:

• Address to cardinals and bishops attending World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015: Saint Martin’s Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood.

• Visit with prisoners and select families: Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.

Afternoon:

• The Papal Mass: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Projected start: 4 p.m. EDT)

Evening:

• A Celebration of World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Supporters + Volunteers: Atlantic Aviation

• Official departure ceremony: Atlantic Aviation

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