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5 Tips for planning your commute to see the pope

New Jersey Transit’s message for those who plan to see the Pope Francis in New York or Philadelphia: Plan carefully and buy ride tickets now.

The Ben Franklin Bridge that connects Camden, NJ to Philly. (Toniann ANtonelli, Townsquare Media NJ)

NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim says riders can use connections to the River Line to get to Camden or ride the rails on the Atlantic City rail line into Philly to see the pope and rise NJT buses. But she strongly emphasizes buying tickets and making plans now.

According to Hakim, there are a number of options available for those traveling to New York or Philadelphia.

1. Take an NJ Transit train into Trenton

The most important thing for people to know, according to Hakim, is that, unlike today, where you can walk across the platform and get on a SEPTA train to Philadelphia, the weekend of Sept. 26 and 27, when the Pope is in Philadelphia, SEPTA will not be running that service out of Trenton,  “so please, don’t come to Trenton and think that you can get on a SEPTA train and go into Philadelphia,” Hakin said.

2. Take the light rail

From Trenton you can get on the River Line, New Jersey Transit’s light rail River Line. River Line service will run with certain limited stops into Camden. But to do that, you have to have an advanced special event ticket, which is available online and should be purchased now.

3. Try the Atlantic City rail line to get to Philly

If you are going to Atlantic City and are interested in seeing the Pope, you can go from Atlantic City to Philadelphia on New Jersey Transit’s Atlantic City rail line.  But it is a special event ticket. You need to buy it ahead of time. It is available online. Tickets are also available at the Atlantic City rail terminal, but will not be available the weekend of the pope’s visit.

4. Take PATCO trains from Camden

When you get to Camden, there are a couple of choices.  PATCO will be running into Philadelphia from Camden.  They too are seeking advance purchase tickets.  NJT has a link to PATCO on their website that can make that an easy purchase for our customers.

5. Take a walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge

Travelers can also walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge, which will be closed to vehicular traffic during the pope’s visit.

Hakim rejects the suggestion this event is anything like the much-criticized NJT post-Super Bowl fiasco that stranded mobs of riders.

“This is very different. This is multi-modal. People will be coming from many different directions,” he said. “This is not like entering a stadium or leaving a stadium.”

NJT is actually advising North Jersey rail riders who hope to see the Pope Francis in Philly to use Amtrak instead.

“That may sound funny for New Jersey Transit to be advocating Amtrak, but in a weekend like this, we are all partners in this,” Hakim said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.

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