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) is a rapid transit system operated by the Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden County, New Jersey.
These railroads all terminated in Camden, where passengers could catch ferries across the Delaware River to Philadelphia.
Early in the 20th century, the idea of a fixed Delaware River crossing connecting Camden and Philadelphia gained traction, and in 1919, the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey formed the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission to build a bridge between the two cities.
The Delaware River Bridge (now Ben Franklin Bridge) was designed to accommodate rail as well as road traffic; when it opened on July 1, 1926, it had two outboard structures beside the main roadway for rail and space for two streetcar tracks (never installed) on the main road deck.
Construction of the rail line did not actually begin until 1932, and the Bridge Line opened on June 7, 1936.
Relatively short, it only had four stations: 8th Street and Franklin Square in Philadelphia (the latter currently closed) and City Hall and Broadway in Camden (connecting to the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines at Broadway).
In Philadelphia, the line used a tunnel built in 1931 to serve both Ben Franklin Bridge trains and a Broad Street Subway spur designed to serve 8th and Market and the southern part of the city center via Locust Street.
The tunnel, which replaced an earlier proposal for a downtown subway loop, extended under 8th to Locust, then under Locust to 16th, but as tracks were not laid beyond 8th and Market, the first Bridge Line trains did not run beyond 8th Street into the Locust Street Subway until February 10, 1952.
This section is owned by the City of Philadelphia and leased by PATCO.
No sooner had the Bridge Line entered service than neighboring communities in Southern New Jersey began agitating for rapid transit extensions to serve them.
To facilitate their construction, the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania expanded the powers of the Delaware River Joint Commission, which owned the Ben Franklin Bridge and the New Jersey portion of the Bridge Line, rechristening it as the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) in 1951.
The agency commissioned Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hall and Mac Donald (now Parsons Brinckerhoff) to study possible rapid transit services for South Jersey; Parsons, Brinckerhoff's final report recommended building a new tunnel under the Delaware and three lines in New Jersey.