Philadelphia preps for pope madness

The World

"We will actually be sleeping in our offices," said a spokeswoman for SEPTA, Philadelphia's public transit authority.

The pope is coming to Philadelphia this weekend. Incoming crowds are expected to double the population, and the city is scrambling to figure out the logistics. 

Essentially all of center city will be on lockdown for the two-day visit. The city has planned three concentric perimeters with increasing levels of security. The inner-most "secure perimenter" will have metal detectors, heavy police presence, and no cars of any kind. Most subway stations within the city will be closed. "Be prepared to walk — several miles." says the official World Meeting of Families website. "Philadelphia is the fourth most walkable city."

But there have been various complaints about the secure perimeter being inaccessbile, especially for those with handicaps.


Philadelphia's redrawn security map for the upcoming papal visit. 


City of Philadelphia

SEPTA is also struggling to figure out crowd crontrol. The regional rail service is offering select rides into the city from a limited number of stops. Initially SEPTA offered the tickets online in a first-come-first-serve basis, but high demand crashed the website. They are now offering the selet tickets in a lottery that hopeful travelers had to register for online. The Transit authority is working desperately to avoid the chaotic gridlock caused by the 2008 World Series, and also balancing Secret Service security mandates. 

Philly businesses are unsure if employees will be able to get in, if they will be able to recieve shipments of goods, and if they will be able to open at all. Some locals have begun calling the chaos "popeapocalypse".

Locals are also complaining about the rows and rows of port-a-pottys that have been set up to deal with the crowds.

But officials are keeping a positive tone. Mayor Michael Nutter is calling himself papal cheerleader-in-chief. "I'm asking Philadelphians who are not already joyously anticipating the arrival of Pope Francis to actually get excited and get involved," the mayor said.

Will you support The World?

There is no paywall on the story you just read because a community of dedicated listeners and readers have contributed to keep the global news you rely on free and accessible for all. Will you join the 314 donors who’ve stepped up to support The World? From now until Dec. 31, your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 match. Donate today to double your impact and keep The World free and accessible.