Note: Information below is a chronological collection of information from Mayor Michael Nutter’s World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit press conferences.

For more information visit the City of Philadelphia’s website and click on the “Papal Visit” section, follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


August 20, 2015

Mayor Michael Nutter held a press conference today focusing on impact of papal visit on residents inside the Traffic Box as well as the rest of the city.

Thursday, August 20, 2015                                             



Philadelphia, August 20, 2015 As part of the ongoing preparations for the World Meeting of Families, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, together with many of the City’s partners, discussed plans for the event and expected impact on residents. The following are Mayor Nutter’s prepared remarks [please check against delivery]:


Good afternoon. This is our fifth briefing ahead of the momentous World Meeting of Families in late September.   We’re now five weeks and a couple days from the arrival of Pope Francis.


After last week’s detailed announcement with the US Secret Service, and now that we can discuss the secure perimeters in full detail, I believe the entire City is really gearing up and has switched into full planning mode.


Businesses are calling the Papal Visit Business Resource Center – we’ve received more than 100 calls since the hotline opened on Monday – and we’re helping them plan to accommodate the 1.5 million visitors we’re expecting.


The vast majority of the questions can be answered right away, and at the end of each day a senior team meets to review and answer more difficult questions.


So now that we have more details confirmed, for today’s Papal Visit update I want to focus on the impact of this event on residents, especially those that live in and around Center City.


Resident Impact


We host big events in Center City year-round.  From the Mummer’s Parade to the 4th of July and the Philadelphia Marathon, the City is experienced at planning for the special events that can sometimes interrupt daily life.


In the same way, residents who live near the areas where these events occur – the Fairmount and Old City neighborhoods, or along Broad Street for parades and the Broad Street Run – know how to plan when these events interrupt their daily routines.


They move their cars off Broad Street, pick up supplies a few days in advance, and a whole host of other things depending on their personal situation.


That said, there are key differences between the Papal Visit weekend and any of the other City events I’ve just mentioned.  We are expecting more attendees than the City has ever welcomed in recent history, and this is an NSSE event, which means there is extra security provided by our partners at the Secret Service.


But, we have worked hard to minimize the impact felt by residents.


Less than 7% of City’s entire population lives inside the traffic box (the green line), which covers just under 4 square miles in Center City and less than 1 square mile in West Philly.


We have said that if you live inside the traffic box, you will be able to drive your car inside the box – or leave, but you cannot return – but given the volume of pedestrians in the area, we don’t recommend driving.


So if you opt to use your bike or walk places in your neighborhood, which we recommend, there are plenty of options in this area, with more than 330 places to get groceries and food inside the Traffic Box.


We will also be posting maps on the city’s website that show the locations of many of these amenities, including hospitals and houses of worship, as well as a map that shows approximate walking distances from outside of the traffic box to Center City.


We have created these resources to give residents an idea of what they can expect and help them make the most of a very exciting weekend.


Papal Playbook


Yet another resource for residents will be the Papal Visit Playbook.


The World Meeting of Families, partnering with the City and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has created a comprehensive guide for residents across the region to assist in their planning for the Papal Visit Weekend.


This guide will be available on Monday, August 24th beginning at noon at


The Playbook will provide residents with a broad overview of information related to the World Meeting of Families Congress, happening the week before the Papal Visit, and the Papal Visit itself that weekend.


Donna will come to the podium in just a moment to give more detail about the components of the Playbook and the type of information which will be available.





Last week we discussed the Secure Perimeter (the red line) and the Secure Vehicle Perimeter (the black line) – both will be constructed and maintained by the Secret Service.


During the time that the Secret Service is erecting these barriers (this means beginning at 10:00 p.m. Thursday evening), SEPTA will be:


  • Running Regional Rail Lines on a weekend schedule with all stations active EXCEPT Suburban Station at 16th & JFK
  • Running subways as normal with all stations active EXCEPT 15th Street and City Hall Stations
  • Running all West Philly Trolley Lines as normal with all stations active EXCEPT 15th


The above applies from 10 p.m. Thursday evening through the end of Friday.  The special Papal passes are NOT required on the Regional Rail trains during this period.


On Saturday and Sunday, SEPTA will be:


  • Reverting to their previously published express and limited stop service on regional, subway and city sub-surface lines.
  • Papal passes WILL be required on Regional Rail, but not on subways and city Trolley Lines.
  • Because of the “traffic box” (green line), many of SEPTA bus routes will be detoured or suspended in the center city region.  Buses on Detour will get as close to the boundary a possible to drop passengers off before turning around for service in the other direction.


And just announced on Tuesday, SEPTA will begin selling One-Day Regional Rail Papal Passes at Suburban, Jefferson and outlying stations tomorrow, Friday, August 21.


Groups and organizations interested in bulk sales can email SEPTA at


This is good news for residents who use Regional Rail to get to their jobs or other appointments on the weekend, and groups that are looking for a simple, direct way to get downtown to participate in the Papal events – SEPTA has Papal Passes available, so make sure you prepare in advance.


Our collective goal is to reduce the difficulties facing residents where we can.


An update from last week: residential trash and recycling collection will be cancelled only on Friday, September 25th and Monday, September 28th (not on Thursday, September 24th as previously stated).  Residents with Friday and Monday collections are asked to hold them until the following week.


As an additional support for residents with questions the weekend of the Papal Visit, the City’s 311 call center will move to 24-hour operation beginning on Thursday, September 24th through Monday, September 28th.


And if you are a business owner and you have questions about planning right now, don’t forget that the Papal Visit Business Resource Center is available M-F, 9am to 5pm at 215-683-2100 or


Let’s all plan ahead for this historic, joyful event.   We’re the ‘can do’ City, and we’re going to have a great and historic visit from Pope Francis.


# # #


August 18, 2015

On Monday, August 17th, the City of Philadelphia added a “Papal Visit” section to

In doing so, the city  hopes to answer questions that residents and businesses have for how the international event of Pope Francis’ visit will affect them.

The site also contains the latest maps of the Center City Traffic Box and details when closures will begin.

Also on Monday, the city opened up a “Business Resource Center” staffed from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to field calls from those dealing in city commerce.

The Business Resource Center can be reached at 215-683-2100 or by email at

The Mayor held a press conference last Thursday, August 13th, to give and update to security plans as well as addressing the business community.

Mayor Michael Nutter’s comments are below.

Philadelphia, August 13, 2015 As part of the ongoing preparations for the World Meeting of Families, Mayor Michael A. Nutter together with many of the City’s partners, including the United States Secret Service, discussed transportation plans for the event. The following are Mayor Nutter’s prepared remarks:


Good afternoon. This is our fourth briefing ahead of the momentous World Meeting of Families in late September.


We’re now six weeks and a couple days from the arrival of Pope Francis. Around the globe, eyes will be turned toward Philadelphia for momentous events that will attract an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people to our City.


For those of us who have been thinking about and planning for these events over many months, excitement is growing.


At the same time, millions of people are making plans to come to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection for the largest spiritual event in our City’s long history.


We, the City and our many partners in local, state and Federal government have been working to ensure that the World Meeting of Families will be held in a safe and secure environment – for the Holy Father and for the thousands of faithful who want to see and hear him.


In previous briefings we laid out some of the basic facts:

  • That we expect between 1 million to 1.5 million visitors to our City on the weekend of Sept. 26-27;
  • That people will need to walk;
  • And that SEPTA has a detailed plan to move visitors as efficiently as possible.


More recently, we’ve announced that vehicle restrictions will be enforced in what we described as the Traffic Box. Why did we create this Traffic Box?


It’s not really an issue related to protecting Pope Francis. It’s to protect the millions of people who will be walking on narrow city streets and sidewalks. In that kind of setting, cars and people don’t mix well.


We’ve also said that motorists who remain in the Traffic Box will be able to use their vehicles, but that they face significant challenges.


Those challenges relate to the sheer size of the walking public and the emergency access roads. The Traffic Box in fact is meant to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic in Center City.


But there are other challenges, and I want to mention them today.


As you know, the US Secret Service is our lead agency for Papal security. This huge event has been classified as a National Special Security Event by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.


Part of that security is the creation of security perimeter, a layered buffer if you will, that protects the venue and in this case, the Pope.


Given the amount of planning that will need to be done by everyone impacted by this event, we are prepared to talk about these boundaries today.


The security perimeter will have a fence with entry points where people will walk through a magnetometer. Vehicles will be removed from inside this perimeter.


In addition to this perimeter, there will be a second one established by the Secret Service: the secure vehicle perimeter. This secure vehicle perimeter will be located outside or beyond the security perimeter and will in essence protect that fence.


Once this secure vehicle perimeter is established, all vehicles must be removed from within it and any vehicle that seeks entry will be screened.


*Mayor Nutter spoke about the secure perimeter timeline here. Please see chart below for details.


Now, with these concepts and the broader picture of just how complicated vehicle traffic will be, I have a number of announcements today.


As you’ll recall, last week we announced that the First Judicial District, the City courts, will be closed starting Wednesday, Sept. 23 and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 29.


The Philadelphia School District, in an effort to provide consistent and uninterrupted learning opportunities while recognizing important religious holidays and the unprecedented visit of Pope Francis, has proposed the following adjustments to the 2015-16 academic calendar:


  • The first day of Kindergarten will now be Thursday, September 17.


  • Due to previously scheduled closures, schools and administrative offices will now be closed from Wednesday, September 23 through Friday, September 25. For Monday, Sept. 28, appropriate notice of a continuing school closure, like in the case of inclement weather, will be given.


  • Friday, October 9 will be a regular school day to make up for one of these days.


With regard to City government, starting on Thursday, Sept. 24 through Monday, Sept. 28, the City will operate on an “essential services only” status.


Many City offices will not be open, and we’re doing this because we recognize how difficult it would be for city employees to get to work. City employees will be briefed by their supervisors as to their work status for those days. City Council President Darrell Clarke has announced that Council’s session on Sept. 24 has been cancelled.


For City residents, let’s all plan ahead for this historic event. By Friday, make sure you’ve taken care of your critical business, that you’ve gotten your groceries, filled your prescriptions and gotten done what you need to ahead of a very busy weekend.


And now I want to address the City’s business community. I understand that there will be significant challenges for many businesses and in response, the City is marshaling its resources to help.


Of course, some businesses are not open on the weekends, so the impacts for employees will be felt on Thursday, Friday and the following Monday. Some businesses are in the heart of Center City, while others are in the far Northeast or Northwest and may experience less impact. And still other businesses will service the attendees to the World Meeting of Families, particularly in our robust hospitality sector.


On Monday, a Papal Visit “Business Resouce Center,” sponsored by the City’s Department of Commerce, will be available on the City’s website. There will be information, maps and a Q&A document that tries to answer many of the questions local business owners have been asking.


Please go to the website and absorb that information. If you have additional questions, you will be able to call the Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services.


The office will have a hotline staffed by 9 business services managers who are trained and prepared to answer basic questions. For more specific questions, the City may need to deal with businesses on a case-by-case basis and respond to inquiries at a later time. The hotline will start taking calls at Noon on Monday and thereafter the hotline will run from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.


Voicemails will be responded to as quickly as possible, and there will be a general email address for businesses with questions. The phone number and the email address will be available Monday morning through a press release as well as being posted on the City’s website.


Beyond this outreach effort and starting several months ago, our partners in the World Meeting of Families coordinating team began to reach out to the business community. That work will intensify in the next couple weeks. Our collective goal is to reduce the difficulties facing businesses where we can.


For example, our basic message to businesses is to get your final deliveries on Friday so that you are stocked for the weekend and Monday.


But we are also working on a plan to allow for limited deliveries to occur overnight on Saturday into the early hours of Sunday. We’ll be asking businesses to be very smart and plan ahead, but we will have a limited delivery capability.


One important caution – these deliveries won’t be to the actual loading dock of each business. We’ll be using drop off locations. We’ll have more specifics in the coming weeks.


We are also very concerned about commercial trash collection. We are working on a plan and we’ll announce it as soon as the details are final.


One of our major concerns is the status of taxis in the Traffic Box in light of the authorized vehicle access roads and the secure and secure vehicle perimeters. At present, taxis are simply barred.


Again, the basic rule is that large throngs of pedestrians must be able to move freely through the City. More vehicle traffic increases the risk.


For taxies, however, we will be making exceptions as needed, and the plan for how that will operate is in the works. But there are three changes I can share:


  • Taxis will be able to move in and out of the Traffic Box until 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, Sept. 26. The idea here is to help those arriving late by train or plane. As you’ll recall, the Traffic Box begins at 6 pm on Friday.
  • There will be 7 medallion taxi cabs that are ADA compliant. They will operate in the Traffic Box along with SEPTA’s CCT vehicles. We believe this is a necessary accommodation.
  • And finally, when we announced the Traffic Box, we noted that it will dissolve sometime on Monday, depending on a host of factors. But starting at 3 am, we will have taxi stands in the Traffic Box to service people needing to get to the Airport for early flights. The locations of these stands will be posted in the days to come on the city website along with other information.


*Secure perimeter details:


  • At 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 24th, the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) around Ben Franklin Parkway and Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map) will go into effect.


  • At 6:00 am on Friday, September 25th, the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) from 12th Street west until 20th Street will be open to screened pedestrians only, no vehicles allowed in the Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map).
  • At 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 25th, the Authorized Vehicle Access Roads (yellow line on map) will go into effect.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25th, the Traffic Box in Center City (green line on map) will go into effect.
  • At 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25th, the Secure Perimeter (red line on map) around Independence Hall and Secure Vehicle Perimeter (black line on map) will go into effect. The Traffic Box in University City (green line on map) will also go into effect.


  • At 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 26th, the Secure Perimeters (red lines on map) for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 20th street west to the Art Museum, and the Independence Hall area, will open to ticketed and screened pedestrians.


  • On Sunday, there will be no screening for pedestrians at Independence Hall, but the perimeters will remain in place for the duration of the event, meaning no vehicles in the Secure Perimeter and Secure Vehicle Perimeter through Sunday night.



August 5, 2015

Mayor’s Office Press Release:

Philadelphia, August 5, 2015 As part of the ongoing preparations for the World Meeting of Families, Mayor Michael A. Nutter together with many of the City’s partners discussed transportation plans for the event. The following are Mayor Nutter’s prepared remarks:

As Philadelphia and the region continue to prepare for the Papal Visit and the attendance of an estimated 1.5 million pilgrims during the World Meeting of Families, we want to provide the public with as much information about what they can expect during this incredible, once-in-lifetime event.

This is our third briefing. We are planning many more briefings as details are put in final form.

Before we get into specifics today, I want to set the stage. We are 7 ½ weeks away from an exciting, joyful, global event. We as a City and region should embrace and own this historic gathering, feel the enthusiasm and celebrate our shared beliefs in the central role that “Family” plays in our lives.

Philadelphia is the “Can Do” City and we can do and will do everything in our power, along with our many partners, to ensure a safe and secure event, a spiritual and joyful event.

It will also be one of those rare opportunities for Philadelphia to showcase on a global stage what we’ve been doing for quite some time – managing very large events or situations.

And this World Meeting of Families could well be the largest ever. In Manila in 2003, Valencia, Spain in 2006 and in Milan in 2012, the closing Mass attendance was estimated at 1 million participants. The current general estimate for Philadelphia is a one million to one-and-one-half million people or more

We believe Pope Francis and his message will encourage many more people to come to Philadelphia. We are all very excited about the prospect of so many women, men and children of faith coming to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

At the same time, I understand there are many concerns. What will happen? How will it impact me, my family, my business, my employer? I get it. We get it. Yes, our daily routines will be disrupted, sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in significant ways.

But just as soon as we have even more concrete details to announce, we will do so. And that will give everyone enough time to take the appropriate actions, make prudent plans and prepare for an event like no other in this City’s history. This is an incredible moment in time for all of us.

Let me note that as we prepare for this historic event, we are working and coordinating with a significant number of partners, including:

United States Secret Service, Philadelphia Police, Philadelphia Fire, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management,

PennDOT, Philadelphia Parking Authority, Delaware River Port Authoriy/PATCO, NJTransit, Department of Homeland Security,

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania National Guard, Pennsylvania State Police, and our regional suburban partners in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

For today, we will provide details regarding vehicle traffic in and around Center City, as well as updates from SEPTA and DRPA on their services.

Our partners from the State will also highlight how they are working with us to ensure that the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit run as smoothly as possible.

  • We are working very closely with the Governor Wolf and the State as we move into the final weeks before the Pope’s arrival, and we know that all of our State agencies will be a huge asset during this major event.
  • PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police and the PA National Guard will play major roles when it comes to traffic, transportation and public safety.

In short, there are many people and agencies working in concert to create the best, most thoughtfully executed plan for our City during the World Meeting of Families. All of the agencies here today will continue to release more detailed plans about their services as we get closer to the event.

The World Meeting of Families Congress will take place Tuesday, September 22nd through Friday, September 25th.  The Papal Visit will take place that weekend, Saturday, September 26th & Sunday, September 27th.

Think of it: 1.5 million visitors in addition to our 1.5 million residents who have to move around the city in their daily lives.

Again, with these numbers in mind, folks should start thinking ahead and making plans now because this event will impact the everyday life of our city and our city government.

We are working to make sure Philadelphia is open and accessible to everyone who wants to be here.   But there are a few things to keep in mind if you do travel downtown for the event or any other activity:

  • Be prepared to walk at least a few miles or more, depending on where you are and where you are going
  • Private vehicles will not be a viable option on the weekend in Center City
  • Public transportation routes and schedules will be altered for efficiency and capacity – and SEPTA and the other agencies will tell us about their plans in just a moment.

As we have done with a number of our other special events, the City of Philadelphia has established what we call a “Traffic Box” for the Papal Visit.

  • The “Traffic Box” is basically an area where private vehicles can exit but can’t re-enter.
  • Within the Traffic Box there are Authorized Vehicle Access Roads, which are for emergency vehicles only and no other vehicles will be permitted to drive or park on them.

The “Traffic Box” established by the City will stretch from Center City to 38th Street in West Philadelphia. Depending on crowd size as it develops during the World Meeting of Families, it is slated to begin at 6 pm on Friday, September 25 with other parts west of the Schuylkill River at 10 pm.

Boundaries are as follows for the Center City portion of the Traffic Box:

  • Northern Boundary: Spring Garden to Ridge, Ridge to Girard, Girard to Schuylkill River
  • Southern Boundary: South Street river to river
  • East Boundary: Delaware Avenue from South Street to Spring Garden Street
  • West Boundary: runs along the edge of the Schuylkill River and cuts up Kelly Drive stopping below the Girard Street Bridge

For the West Philadelphia portion of the Traffic Box, the boundaries will be:

  • Northern Boundary: Powelton Avenue from 32nd to 38th
  • Southern Boundary: University Avenue to Grays Ferry
  • East Boundary: Runs along the edge of the Schuylkill River and train tracks
  • West Boundary: 38th Street from Powelton Avenue to University Avenue

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic WILL be permitted within the “Traffic Box”.

In addition to the announcements related to transportation, we’re also announcing that operations of the City Courts, the First Judicial District, will be closed Wednesday, September 23rd through Monday, September 28th.

During this period, the City of Philadelphia will be open for services, but there will limited service plans from Thursday through Monday. We plan to provide more details in the days to come regarding city service levels and impacts.

One final note before we hear from our partners.

We all need to take a collective moment of reflection and pride. We as a City, we the people, were chosen for this event. We are the chosen city and with that comes certain duties, responsibilities and pride.  Yes, we will face challenges for a period of time. But we will face them together as a City, as a region as a community.

In the past, we’ve had road closures, we’ve had areas of the city cordoned off, and we’ve had disruptions in service for short periods of time – from snow storms to heavy rain events.

We’ve had huge events that have closed the Parkway.

I guess what’s different here is that the proportions of this event are so large and the impacts are all going to happen at the same time. That’s unique, that’s different. But so is hosting the World Meeting of Families and I’m thrilled about that. This is our “one moment in time.” As the song goes, ‘You’re a winner for a lifetime, if you seize that one moment in time, make it shine.’

When William Penn designed this City Center, he created an eye-pleasing grid. Today, it’s an incredibly walkable, bikeable and manageable area. Folks will be able to get around.

We are doing the planning, we’re assembling the needed resources and we’ve begun a long and detailed discussion with the public about what to expect. Much more information is to come.

But let’s not lose sight of the wonderful opportunity with which we’ve been presented. The Vatican looked all over the world and the United States and chose this city for this event.

We will be ready and we’re going to open our City to the world and when it’s over people we know what it means to be the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.


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