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New PEnn Transit Buses Credit: Kai Tang

For many Penn students, the PennRIDES service becomes irrelevant after their introduction during New Student Orientation. However, Penn Transit’s new sustainability efforts may change that.

This September, Penn Transit added four new propane-powered shuttles to their fleet, each reducing their tailpipe emission by 50 percent in comparison to traditionally gasoline-powered vehicles. The shuttles, along with four low-emission buses purchased in 2008, will be decked in eye-catching “green themed” wraps.

“We want to really call out the fact that these are new sustainable low-emission vehicles,” said Marie Witt, vice president of the Business Services Division.

In spite of being supportive of the PennRIDES going-green initiative, many students said that they are unaware of the service.

College sophomore Rachel Gates, who is an Eco-rep for Harrison College House, has never used the service and did not know anyone who had. She did, however, recognize the PennRIDES number from NSO.

Gates admitted she “didn’t know [Penn] had shuttles,” attributing that to their indistinguishable exterior. “A lot of Penn Transit shuttles just look like regular Facilities vans,” she explained.

The new wrapping, she hopes, will not only raise awareness for the going-green movement, but will also help students identify the service.

College sophomore Parker Vanderslice-Lamas, a member of the Penn Environmental Group, used the service once during his freshman year. “When we went to Rittenhouse Square for a concert, we walked to 20th Street and called PennRIDES,” he said. He found the service “fairly convenient.”

However, like most of the student body, he finds that he “does not live far enough from campus to use the service frequently.”

Even if they do not regularly use the service, several students agree that they are comforted by the fact that PennRIDES is available to them.

However, Gates noted that the shuttles’ daily non-stop schedule of 5 p.m. to 3 a.m — when there would be so few passengers — is inefficient.

“It’s different if it’s midnight and you’re at 48th Street and you call them to come and get you,” she said.

According to Business Services, the shuttles operate from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily and are on call from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m at (215) 898-7433. Any PennCard holder can board from one of the 10 campus pick-up points and be dropped off anywhere between 20th and 48th streets.

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