Riders again court love on the rails

Love is nothing like what we see in the movies—unless you’re taking SEPTA. Over the years, the transit system, in collaboration with the city’s Mural Arts Program, has furnished many a fairytale romance.

The partnership’s offering, the Love Train, will be making its yearly appearance Sunday with both honeys and hopefuls aboard. The privately-chartered, specially decorated train guides passengers through the Love Letter project, a series of over 50 murals coloring the architecture of West Philadelphia.

The event takes place two days before Valentine’s day—just enough time to exchange bashful glances with a stranger on the commute, flirt over candlelit dinner, and fall head over heels in love.

For Jemetra Harvey, however, 48 hours didn’t quite cut it. In fact, she spent several years faithfully boarding the Route 31 bus, savoring her encounters with operator Michael Gordon.

Rather than taking the trolley, Harvey voluntarily doubled her daily commuting time. “I saw him looking at me in the mirror. We always smiled at each other,” she said. Small victories grew into “good mornings, thank yous,” ultimately fostering courage for conversation.

“We’ve just been like fireworks ever since,” Harvey said. They are now happily engaged, having since united with their own children into a family of five.

It’s no surprise that their submission received the top vote in this year’s SEPTA Love Stories contest, which singled out 14 from over 50 couple-candidates for a free ride on Sunday.

SEPTA spokeswoman Heather Redfern noted the diversity of entries, saying, “From people who have only been together for a few months to those married for well over 30 years, it shows that love’s out there when you least expect it, no matter who you are or the kind of person you’re looking for.”

The Love Train departs from SEPTA headquarters Sunday at 3 p.m., followed by a reception at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person.

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