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Penn Transit will begin offering a free shuttle service to Trader Joe’s in Center City for Penn students.

Credit: Erica Xin

The Undergraduate Assembly announced Thursday that Penn Transit will begin offering a free shuttle service to Trader Joe’s in Center City for Penn students.

The shuttle will run on Thursdays and Saturdays from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to the UA's Facebook post. The bus will run on a continuous loop departing at 45-minute intervals. The bus, which will be operated by Penn Transit, can hold 40 seated passengers with additional room for standing. The bus is expected to carry between 160 to 180 riders per day, the post said.

The shuttle service will first go through a trial run, which will last from Dec. 5 to Feb. 1. Following the trial run, the UA and Penn Transit will decide whether or not to continue the service based on participation and student feedback.

UA Dining, Housing, and Transit Committee Director Maria Curry said the initiative is part of an effort to provide healthy and affordable dining options for Penn students.

Curry said the idea to provide free shuttles to Trader Joe’s came up at a semesterly meeting with Penn Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, in which the UA has been pushing for easier access to healthier food options. Curry said it would be ideal if there were a Trader Joe’s on campus, and Carnaroli suggested that Penn Transit could provide shuttles directly there.

Trader Joe’s was chosen because of its established popularity among students, said Curry, who is a College and Wharton senior.

Penn Transit currently offers shuttles in the evenings to fixed drop-off locations on and around campus. The nearest shuttle stop to Trader Joe's is currently 20th and Locust streets, which is 0.5 miles from the grocery store.

Credit: Courtesy of Mike Mozart/Creative Commons

The UA decided to provide free shuttles to Trader Joe's because it is already popular among students and offers healthier food options.

“Students are already going there, so this is simply making it easier for them,” Curry said, adding that this service will alleviate the cost of an Uber or SEPTA ride into Center City.

Curry said she feels optimistic about the popularity of the shuttle service, and mentioned that the UA’s announcement on Facebook was one of the group’s most popular Facebook posts, with 198 likes and 279 comments as of Sunday evening.

Based on the response to the trial run, the service may be extended to more days or longer hours, Curry said. Her goal is to push Penn Transit to expand shuttle services to other off-campus retail or dining venues that are popular among students. 

College sophomore Evelyn Bond said she is excited about the shuttle service because Trader Joe's is her "go-to grocery store."

“I’ve walked there before from campus, but it’s always kind of difficult, because if you have a ton of bags, it’s kind of far away," Bond said.