Subway Safety: The Craziest Experiences Students Have Had on Septa

By: Nate Medina

We recently asked Philadelphia School district students to recount their most memorable experiences on Septa, the stories were shocking.


“One time I was on the BSL and somebody tried to steal my wallet. I took it right out of their pocket and he said, ‘uh that was just on the floor.’ I responded, ‘no, it’s mine,’” a Central sophomore told us.

Many students ride Septa, I myself ride Septa to get to and from school and I’ve had my share of interesting experiences. One in particular sticks out in my mind, I was riding on the El with two friends after school. I was joking around with one of my friends when a girl got on and sat in the seat in the row in front of us. She heard something my friend said, not knowing the context, she thought my friend was bullying me and asked me if he was. I explained that he was my friend and was just joking, once she found this out, she began talking 

with the two of us and our other friend who was across from us. About a few minutes after meeting us, she began hitting on the friend who was sitting next to me. Everything was fine until she said her hand was cold and proceeded to put it on my friend’s face and say his face was warm. Our other friend and I watched in shock and discomfort and I can’t imagine his discomfort having a stranger put her hand on his face. This was no doubt one of the craziest experiences I’ve had on Septa but not the only one. 

It seems that lots of students have experiences where they are made to feel uncomfortable. These are some of these stories:


 “One time I had a guy on the BSL yell in my face on the way to school that he needed money to buy crack. It was kinda scary at the moment just cause he was really big, but looking back it’s kinda funny and this is just what comes with living in the city.”

- Central Junior


“I was approached by a homeless man and I was trying to help him by offering him food and train fare. He wouldn’t stop just asking for money despite what I did, so I decided that his priorities weren’t correct and walked away.” - Parkway Center City Middle College Sophomore


“I was on the bus when it crashed and wasn’t given an incident slip,”- SLA Beeber Junior.


“I was taking the BSL local from home (Spring Garden) to school (Olney) on a Sunday morning around 7 am for mock trial. There was one other person on the train until an older man got on, started yelling, sat down right next to me on an empty train, and lit a cigarette. I freaked out internally and the other person on the train, an older woman, came over and suggested that we get off at the next stop and get on a different car. So sweet!” - Central Senior


“I was riding on the BSL and this drunk man was standing next to me. I was sitting next to a kid and I decided to not let the drunk guy fall on the kid and harass him, so I sat next to him and protected the kid.” - Parkway Center City Middle College Freshman


Our search also found that a few people report having things stolen from them, an incoming freshman at Central reports her phone being stolen while on the bus.


It also seems like there’s a lot of fights break out on the bus, here were some stories we got about fights breaking out:


“My craziest SEPTA experience was when I was on the subway and then a fight broke out between these two guys. I don’t even know what happened. One man pushed the other into the door and then the people on the subway made the man who started the fight get off the train at the next stop. The conductor came on the loudspeaker and said: “you better stop or I’ll call the cops!” It was super scary!” - Masterman 7th Grader

"This lady was telling this man to shut up cuz he was singing and he wouldn’t be quiet and they started arguing. Another time this older lady wanted to argue with me because I didn’t move enough out of her way, but the bus was crowded and a lady bigger than her passed me with no problem. Also this other time a black lady was arguing with a white woman over a seat and the black lady started preaching about the civil rights and how we fought to have these seats."- SLA Beeber Junior 


"There was a time I was on the trolley with my aunt and a fight broke out between two girls so the trolley stopped and made them get off. Then we had to sit there and wait for the next trolley because the driver didn’t want to move." - SLA Beeber Junior 


Not all the reported instances were bad though, here are some instances that were funny:


“I saw a man walking through the subway with an entire shelf full of M&Ms from CVS and was selling them. The shelf was around six feet tall and I have no idea how he walked out of a CVS and didn’t get caught! I couldn’t stop laughing!”- Central Senior


“While on the subway, a guy in a blue jacket scooters in. He rested his scooter on someone’s lap and asked, ‘You don’t mind, right bro?’ Then to the entire care he announced, ‘I’m Jordan: singer, actor, singer. Google me, that’s how I get around.’ He went around and gave everyone a fist bump. ‘Rip Stan Lee, that’s my nickname,’ he said. He said the fist bumps were how he spreads love. At the other end of the car, he said, ‘Alright so here’s the deal guys, I have a court date tomorrow, see?’ He unzipped his jacket to show he was wearing a suit and tie. ‘So you guys need to be my jury and tell the judge I’m innocent, because I didn’t do nothing,’ he said and got back on his scooter. ‘Alright y’all, stay safe,’ he said and scootered away.”- Masterman Senior


“Not craziest septa experience but rather cutest, a little boy came on the bus with his mom’s phone listening to The Box and he just started dancing and swinging from the seats. It was so cute!” - Central Junior


It seems like most of the students who responded to the survey had an experience that stuck out in their mind. Most experiences were bad experiences which shows that there needs to be more ways to make sure people are safe while on Septa. Maybe there could possibly be some changes made so that way students and just people in general can feel more safe on Septa. The best thing is if you see something happen try to move away and try to not make the situation worse.