Last Friday, the American Public Transportation Association ranked SEPTA as the cleanest transit system in North America — a title I had to confirm as a veteran rider. I walked down the soon-to-be “Drexel Station” at 30th Street and braced myself for an experience I’d undergone many times: one faceted by the SEPTA smells of moldy socks and barf, mushes of spit antagonizing the seats, and of course, the puddles of piss in the stairwell corners.

After tapping my key and reaching the platform, I checked the train schedule and rolled my eyes. I wonder how long today’s delay will be, I thought. My jaw dropped as I witnessed a behemoth of polished silver arrive in front of me. The train, in all its borderline sparkling glory, came at its exact scheduled time of 5:10:53 p.m. (yes, to the second). Clearly, the changes were no joke, and I needed to start taking this ranking more seriously.

Before I could even register what was happening, uniformed men marched out from behind the staircases and stood beside their designated cars to help passengers enter. They then used walkie-talkies to confirm that everyone was inside (a farewell to doors slamming in our faces) and guided us to our seats in an air hostess fashion. Inside, the aroma of perfumed lilies wafted through the clean air – a passenger favorite among SEPTA’s own line of “transportation scents” that coat their seats. Since last June, SEPTA has been working alongside renowned perfumers to create fragrances to wipe our memories of piss smells and body odors.

I looked at the floor and couldn’t find a single cigarette butt – a sight I’d only dared to dream of. Each seat was accompanied by a complimentary mini broom and dustpan, leaving passengers to clean up after themselves before they walked out (and if they refused, it was clear that the musclemen were there for a reason). “Those with the cleanest cars receive unlimited bathroom breaks,” one employee explained. Aside from feeling slightly bullied into scraping the floors, I couldn’t help but respect the system’s self-sustaining nature.

Truth is, SEPTA isn’t just cleaner, it has entered completely new territory, one never seen before even by the likes of Amtrak. With its new hallmarks, SEPTA has earned its position as the official top dog of public transportation and single-handedly revolutionized expectations. It’s timely, elegant, and the best transportation experience North America has to offer.