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Editorial | We Don't Need a Trader Joe's Shuttle. We Need a Trader Joe's Private Helicopter.


Photo from tOrange / CC BY 4.0

In December, the Undergraduate Assembly began a pilot program for a nighttime shuttle to the Trader Joe’s grocery store at 22nd and Market. This project reflects a well-intentioned effort from the UA to respond to student needs and increase campus wellness. However, this shuttle service is not the best way to accomplish these goals. Penn students should instead have private helicopters to drop them off at Trader Joe’s, rather than a clunky, plebeian vehicle such as a shuttle.

A free shuttle to get there sounds like a convenience for Penn students, but it is simply not enough. Shuttles must obey traffic laws, which is severely detrimental for students already stressed about their busy schedules. Additionally, since shuttles increase the congestion on Market Street and cause traffic jams, providing a private helicopter service would be just as, if not more, environmentally friendly than a shuttle. Finally, shuttles are simply uncool, and typically have bullies sitting in the back.

This concept isn’t new: Many other universities have set up private helicopter systems in their cities already. Yale University even has an on-demand helicopter app (similar to PennRides, except with helicopters, obviously) called “Yaliecopter.”

A program like this would not only allow students to access healthy food options, but also allow them to avoid walking, taking public transit, or Ubering around the city. They would be able to interact with Philadelphia less — staying firmly put in the “Penn bubble.” Eliminating contact with Philadelphia residents would be a big draw for students who wish to attend happy hours and downtowns in Center City, and nothing more.

Penn must be conscious of its role in the Philadelphia community and incorporate training for new students on how to completely remove itself from a city environment. Penn should join many of its university peers in providing the basic, convenience-oriented solution of providing a personal helicopter service for students. Sometimes, Penn doesn’t need to invent the solution to the problem. Sometimes, Penn just needs to support our God-given right to private helicopters.