Empty shuttles aren’t on joyrides

Illustration by Bo Brown

Dear Benny,
When you see a Penn shuttle van driving around in the morning or midday when shuttle services are technically not running, what are they doing?
—On the Run

Dear Rushed,
“Probably going to the repair shop,” said Transportation Services Manager Ron Ward when I asked him this question. “We do not do our own repairs, at least not yet.”

Penn’s 25 Escort shuttle vans get driven eight to 10 hours each day, which puts a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles. Every day, anywhere from one to five Escort vans go into local repair shops for routine maintenance. “It might be for body work, it might be for oil changes—anything you’d bring a car in for,” said Ward. The vans are also refueled daily at an Amoco gas station near campus.

Penn is currently looking to bring both refeuling and vehicle maintenance functions in-house. Transportation services is working with Associate Vice President Jack Shannon to identify a suitable site and Ward tells me progress is being made.

Dear Benny,
I know that Benjamin Franklin is considered Penn’s founder. But did any of his descendants attend Penn?
—Root Digger

Dear Genealogist,
They sure did, starting with Ben’s own offspring. The University Archives and Alumni Records list 43 Franklin descendants who have attended Penn between 1775 and 1992, including his son, William Temple Franklin, who attended from 1775 to 1778, and grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache (C 1787, G 1790), who was prosecuted under the Sedition Act for publishing the Aurora, a newspaper that harshly criticized the Federalist government.

Dear Benny,
I was walking past the old Citizens Bank at 36th and Walnut and noticed workers carrying debris out of the building. Has a new tenant been found?
—Sidewalk Superintendent

Dear Construction Buff,
No. Tony Sorrentino, director of external relations in the Office of the Executive Vice President, tells me that vacant retail space is usually stripped bare so prospective tenants can fill it with their imaginations.

Originally published on January 30, 2003