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How To Get From Philadelphia International Airport to Center City, Philadelphia [2024]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
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Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is about 12 miles from downtown Philadelphia, commonly called Center City. The airport is the primary airport for the Philadelphia region, including all of the Delaware Valley, including much of southern and central New Jersey to the east, all the way south to encompass most of Delaware, and west to Lancaster County. The airport actually has several good transportation options to downtown and is a relatively easy place to navigate.

We’ll discuss each transportation option, including costs, schedule, and more, so you can make the best decision about how to get to Center City.

Overview of Cost Estimates

SCROLL FOR MORE
Transit MethodCost Estimate
SEPTA TrainFrom $6.50
SEPTA BusFrom $2
Ride-ShareFrom $29
TaxiFrom $32
Hired CarFrom $110

SEPTA Train

SEPTA PHL
Image Credit: Philadelphia International Airport

The Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (which everyone calls “SEPTA”) runs a train service approximately every half-hour from Center City to Philadelphia International Airport. The SEPTA train departs from stations at Terminal A, Terminal B, Terminals C and D, and Terminals E and F. The train station is easy to get to from the terminals themselves. Exit security, cross the bridge over the traffic below, and follow the signage to the escalator and elevator that take you down to the tracks (you can see them from above).

The train heads into Center City every 30 minutes or so, so if you miss a train, you must wait half an hour for the next one. In Center City, you can stop at Gray 30th Street Station (Philadelphia’s main train station, which Amtrak serves), Suburban Station, or Jefferson Station.

Here’s how much it costs for a one-way ride:

  • If you have a SEPTA Key (a reloadable, chipped card for regular users), the price is $6.50
  • A Quick Trip (a normally purchased fare with a disposable, magnetic ticket) is $6.75
  • If you’re using cash, the price is $8

You’re encouraged to buy a ticket before boarding the train, since you may be charged more for purchasing through an onboard conductor.

SEPTA trains do not have dedicated luggage storage areas, though they do have small overhead storage racks that could fit a small backpack or tote bag. If you have a larger bag, you need to squeeze it somewhere near your feet. Luckily, the ride to Philly’s main transit station is only about 20 to 25 minutes.

One nice thing about the Philadelphia International Airport SEPTA lines is that they usually continue past Center City and north toward Doylestown in Pennsylvania or Trenton or West Trenton in New Jersey. This means that if you’re going past Philadelphia, you may not have to transfer trains, but which regional train services the airport sometimes changes, so check before departure.

Hot Tip:

You can purchase a reloadable SEPTA Key for $4.95 (plus a minimum load amount) at any staffed SEPTA station. You can put money on these cards to use on future transit rides, which will make your transfer from the plane to the train that much faster next time.

SEPTA Bus

SEPTA bus PHL
Image Credit: SEPTA

Philadelphia International Airport is served by 3 SEPTA bus routes. Travelers should exit baggage claim to zone 1 of the Arrivals Road to board the bus.

  • Route 37 — South Philadelphia to Chester
  • Route 108 — Airport to 69th Street Transportation Center
  • Route 115 —Airport to Delaware County Community College

Single rides cost $2.50 (exact change only) or $2 with a SEPTA Key card.

Ride-Share

PHL rideshare signs
Image Credit: Philadelphia International Airport

To catch a ride-share, exit the terminal, walk over the pedestrian bridge to baggage claim, and head downstairs to the pickup area. Follow the signage for zone 7. PHL is unusual in that the pickup area for all vehicles isn’t right at the terminal itself but across the road (which you can safely access via a pedestrian bridge).

An average fare from the airport to Center City is about $29, though heavy traffic can come from the airport during peak times of the day. Of course, once you’re in Center City, the final cost depends on where your final destination is. Philadelphia’s airport does have surge pricing that comes into play quite often, so it’s not uncommon to arrive and then realize a ride-share vehicle is very expensive. This is partly because SEPTA trains only run every half-hour.

Taxi

PHL taxis limos
Image Credit: Philadelphia International Airport

Taxis are offered in roughly the same place as ride-share pickups. Once you’re down at baggage claim, walk outside and look for zone 5, where taxis pick up. Philadelphia International Airport has multiple taxi services that provide rides, so it’s up to you which to use.

The average taxi ride to Center City is around $32, only slightly more than the ride-share cost. Of course, taxis are metered, and traffic may affect your fare. You’re also expected to add a tip.

Hired Car

If you want a more predictable option and wish for a driver to be waiting for you upon your arrival, consider hiring a chauffeured car. These cars include a driver who will wait for you in the terminal with a sign with your name, escort you to the car, assist with your bag, and then drive you to your final destination, often with a complimentary bottle of water, charging capabilities, and maybe even a newspaper.

This is the most expensive option, but you’ll know you have a vehicle waiting for you when you land.

Typical prices to Center City for hired vehicles include:

  • About $90 for a luxury sedan
  • About $120 for a luxury SUV
  • About $130 for a large SUV
  • Over $200 for a van that can accommodate more passengers and bags

Final Thoughts

If you’re traveling from Philadelphia International Airport to Center City, you have several ways to get there. The cheapest (and the one where traffic is least likely to slow you down) is taking the SEPTA train or bus, so if you’re not in a time crunch, this is the best way to get downtown. If taking SEPTA doesn’t work for you, ride-share and taxis are about the same price. And if you want door-to-door service and don’t mind shelling out extra, or if you have a lot of passengers or luggage, then a hired vehicle may be the way to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get from Philadelphia Airport to Center City?

There are several ways of getting from Philadelphia International Airport to Center City. These include taking a SEPTA regional rail train, SEPTA bus, ride-share, taxi, or hired car.

Is there a train from airport to Philadelphia?

Yes! Philadelphia International Airport is served by the SEPTA train, which stops at all terminals. It departs roughly every half-hour and takes about 25 minutes to get into Center City.

Is Uber allowed at Philadelphia airport?

Yes! Ride-share vehicles pickup at zone 7 on the baggage claim level and are in regular supply.

How far is Philadelphia airport from the city?

Center City, the downtown area of Philadelphia, is about 7 miles from the airport, though it may take some time to transit the short distance with extensive traffic during peak hours.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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