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Credit: Gillian Diebold

Penn Transit shuttles will continue to bring students to Trader Joe’s for free after Penn Transit extended the shuttle pilot program from February 1 until April 4.

The Undergraduate Assembly announced the pilot project in a Facebook post in December. Penn Transit originally planned to run the pilot through Feb. 1, but has extended the period through April 4 to collect more data on ridership, Senior Associate Director of Penn Transit Michael Randolph said.

Penn Transit started the program in December primarily for students remaining on campus over break to have access to grocery stores, Randolph said. He added the planned period for the pilot program did not give Penn Transit enough time to gain accurate and consistent ridership numbers in order to decide whether it should be continued long term.

Randolph said that the shuttle has so far transported more than 489 passengers, and is now transporting 50 to 60 students on each of the two nights the shuttle runs, Thursday and Saturday. The bus has a capacity of between 160 and 180 passengers per night.

Penn Transit does not currently have a goal of minimum ridership needed to make the program permanent, Randolph added.

Randolph said the shuttle will continue its same route and times for the remainder of the pilot program. The shuttle makes stops at Franklin’s Table, the Schattner Center, and the Quad before driving to the Trader Joe’s at 2121 Market St. in a continuous loop. The first shuttle is at 6:30 p.m. from Franklin's Table, and the last shuttle is at 9:55 p.m. from Trader Joe's. Students can track the location of the bus along the route in real time using the PennRides on Request app.

College sophomore Jahnvi Patel said that she has taken the shuttle because she prefers Trader Joe’s to Fresh Grocer and finds the bus convenient.

"It's quick and efficient without having to worry about the trolley," Patel said.

So far, the shuttle has transported more than 489 passengers to Trader Joe's. (Photo by Anthony92931 | CC BY-SA 3.0)

College first-year Anika Kalra said that she once rode an empty bus on the way to Trader Joe’s. She added that she likes taking the shuttle from the Quad where she lives. The Quad is the last on-campus stop before the shuttle continues to Trader Joe’s.

Kalra added that she finds the shuttle tracking feature on the PennRides on Request app helpful. She said that she hopes to see the shuttle continue to run on Thursdays and Saturdays after the pilot program.

Engineering sophomore Ryan Lam, who started using the shuttle last week, agreed that the shuttle was convenient.

Director of Communications and External Relations for Business Services Barbara Lea-Kruger said Penn Transit will work with the UA to announce any further changes to the program. She added that Penn Transit will consider feedback from students through the Business Services feedback form.

“This is a pilot, which means we're going to continue to evaluate it,” Lea-Kruger said. “We've always said that we may make changes along the way.”