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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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When SEPTA was the Route to Royalty

As our year-long 50th Anniversary celebration continues, we flash back to Sunday, April 25, 1982 when the city gathered to herald the arrival of a special guest to help celebrate the city's 300th Birthday. The Ocean Liner Queen Elizabeth 2, flagship of Britain's legendary Cunard Line made her first voyage to Philadelphia to take part in our tercentenary celebration.

The arrival of the ship was a city-wide affair; with the Mayor's Office projecting that over 100,000 Philadelphians would be heading down to the Packer Marine Terminal to greet the luxury liner. Predicting traffic gridlock, city officials turned to SEPTA to transport everyone to the majestic arrival. In grand fashion, a parade of 175 SEPTA buses was assembled to meet extra train service arriving at Pattison Avenue on the Broad Street Line (now AT&T Station.) The free buses took riders on the two mile trip from the station to the port and back. The greatest demand on the buses over one hour was estimated to be about 15,000 to 20,000 people going and returning. By the end of the service day, SEPTA's "Royal Fleet" traveled over 15,000 combined miles over the special route, with each bus taking about 30 minutes to make the complete turn-around combined with the additional traffic congestion in the area.

"In view of the importance and large size of this event" wrote John F. Tucker III, SEPTA's Chief Operations Planning Officer of the time, SEPTA provided "without additional charge a large contingent of supervisors, instructors, security, and management personnel to oversee this operation and provide close coordination with the Police and other service departments.

Posted here for you to share in the memories is a photo - donated by the Philadelphia City Archives - of the Queen Elizabeth 2's arrival in Philadelphia and the original passenger service brochure retrieved from SEPTA's archive.

Did you attend this special event using SEPTA's special "royal loop" service? We'd love to hear from you, and see pictures of our buses in action on that day. Email us at iseptaphilly@septa.org, and we'll share your contributions here online!

Click here to see the Queen Elizabeth brochure

Learn more about our 50th Anniversary and read other stories here.