Bring back the Philly shuttle

Swarthmore advertises its proximity to Philadelphia as a key selling point of the college. For many students, this is a major factor in deciding to come here, as it clearly sets Swarthmore apart from peer institutions like Amherst and Williams, which are not near major cities. Yet as of this semester, Swarthmore does not provide any form of free transportation to the city.

Going to Philly is more difficult than it needs to be. The $12 round-trip ticket is a significant disincentive, making it much cheaper to just stay on campus. On weekends, SEPTA doesn’t even run past 11, making it difficult to make evening plans in the city. While we could be availing ourselves of restaurants, concerts, and festivals in Philly, the cost and limited availability of transportation make Philadelphia seem quite far to go.

Bringing back the Philly shuttle could fix this. A free means of getting to and from Philly would make the trip much easier, not to mention affordable.

When the shuttle was cancelled at the end of last year, many students had the same reaction: “There’s a Philly shuttle?” It was so poorly advertised that many people who would have used it had no idea that it even existed.

The Philly shuttle was also poorly-organized: rather than running at regular intervals, it had to be reserved in advance for specific times.

We suggest that the Philly shuttle be brought back, with a few modifications. Rather than running it by request, it should run frequently, hopefully as much as hourly. Most importantly, it should run later than SEPTA. We propose that it essentially extend the hours of SEPTA service on weekends, leaving Philadelphia every hour, on the hour from 11 pm to 3 am. This would allow students to attend more events in Philly without worrying about getting home.

Beyond improving service, the shuttle must be better advertised. Numerous reminder emails are sent out about the Target and King of Prussia shuttles, yet the Philly shuttle was never well-advertised.

Swarthmore’s website actually describes the Shuttle as “one of the best-kept secrets at Swarthmore.” No wonder it was so rarely used. If its service were regular, and if it were well-advertised, students might be inclined to use it.

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