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Recently, The Daily Pennsylvanian has directed quite a bit of attention toward the use — or lack thereof — of Penn Transit Services. What it failed to address is exactly why no one is using this service. An article published last month stated, “It is unclear why students are unaware of the free services offered to them” (“Penn Transit underused by students,” 1/20/2011).

But it is pretty clear to me why people aren’t using it.

One reason that Penn Transit is underused is the obvious lack of knowledge. Students don’t seem to be clear on how the service operates, and Penn Transit itself seems to be pretty complacent about helping students learn about the system.

“It’s something that’s been there for a long time, but students don’t know about it,” Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger told the DP.

So what are the rules? According to the Penn Transit website, there are two main services — the bus and shuttles. The bus is pretty simple — find one of those obscure little signs hidden between the “No Parking Here” sign and the “This Area Under Surveillance” sign, and there you go! As long as you’re running on that schedule, it’s pretty’s easy.

Shuttles are a little different. Again, you can wait at one of the designated stop areas for a shuttle that can drop you at other various designated stops, or you can call for your own personal shuttle by dialing 215-898-RIDE. After doing so, you can talk with someone who will inform one of many things: They don’t provide service to that area. They’re busy. Or maybe if you’re lucky, a shuttle will be coming for you as soon as their convenience allows.

Along with confusion about the general rules, many students have also encountered problems with the service itself — including rude dispatchers, dangerous drivers and late shuttles, among other things.

College junior Caroline Williams said the service is “unreliable” and that “you never know if it is going to come in five minutes or a half an hour.” She also noted that the drivers’ “general demeanor is not very welcoming.”

Wharton senior Nick Whitehead was met with difficulty when trying to get a shuttle to pick him up. According to Whitehead, he has only successfully used Penn Transit once in his four years at Penn.

On this one occasion, he and his friends were attempting to get a ride from 30th Street Station back to campus. When he called, he was met with variances on “we don’t provide service to that area” — which is false. “Although I’m not entirely sure as to the actual rules that govern Penn Transit,” Whitehead said, “the reason they agreed to giving us a ride that night was because on the third and fourth attempts, the guys talked in female voices and said that our group consisted of 30 female Penn students.”

However, fear not, fellow Quakers. If you want to register a complaint with Penn Transit, you should look to your inbox. A recent e-mail from the Undergraduate Assembly offered a survey where you could give feedback and be entered in a contest to win fabulous prizes.

So I clicked on the link and tried to let them know how I felt about their service. It took me to a page that read, “Not found. The URL you requested was not found on this server”.

Honestly, I can’t say I’m shocked. If anything, it seemed to fit perfectly. When it comes down to it, it’s hard to see Penn Transit trying to find a way to change or make its services better. It is not easily accessible and is, for the most part, hard to use.

Penn Transit’s failures have led us to a simple conclusion — we have to find our own transportation.

Sarah Banks is a College sophomore from Okemos, Mich. Her e-mail address is Bank on It appears every other Monday.

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