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A new group of local university and high-school students is doing its part to get more young people on trolleys, trains and buses.

SEPTA’s new Youth Advisory Council, a panel of students from area universities and high schools, will serve as the transit organization’s “primary outreach” to students, according to a press release from YAC.

Five of the 14 current members are Penn students, and the other colleges with student involvement are Temple and LaSalle universities and the Community College of Philadelphia.

The group’s formation, said YAC Chairman and College senior Phil Dawson, comes from SEPTA’s desire to reach an age group it sees as an “untapped market.”

The transit organization began working with YAC in August to increase ridership among youth through outreach and events, communication and service evaluation, the release said.

Members of the group began the outreach arm of the program on Friday, providing students and visiting parents with information and merchandise outside of Penn Bookstore. SEPTA employees showcased one of their new green-hybrid buses on 36th Street as well.

Dawson, an Urban Studies major, joined the group because of his interest in city planning and transportation.

Though he said many students already make use of SEPTA’s services, there are “plenty who misunderstand or have misconceptions” about mass transit in the area. The Youth Advisory Council is an attempt by SEPTA to correct that, he added.

“Ideally, we should have a component of [New Student] Orientation to educate students for the next four years,” Dawson said.

To make this goal a reality, YAC is working with the College Peer Advising Program as well as potentially with resident advisors in the College House system.

YAC will speak to the Advising Program this week and according to Dawson, the group is looking forward to partnering with student groups to help encourage familiarity with SEPTA.

“We want to give information on the front end, rather than after [students] have been here a few years,” he said.

The last branch of YAC’s work, service evaluation, will be executed primarily in the form of a survey that the group will distribute to students in December.

YAC is working with Mark Stern, co-director of Penn’s Urban Studies program, to develop the survey.

Based on the results of the survey, YAC will offer recommendations of “high-priority programs and service improvements” to SEPTA leadership, the release said.

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