The mass exodus of undergraduate students from campus to the San Jose or San Francisco airports foreshadows winter break at Stanford every year. Because so many students require transportation to make this perennial journey, the ASSU continued the tradition of operating an airport shuttle at the end of last fall quarter from December 10-11, under the Student Services Division.
This year there were 362 riders who bought $15 tickets from the shuttle service. The service initially cost the ASSU $5112, but brought in $5430 in revenue, essentially breaking even.
“I believe last year the shuttle didn’t do so well on the whole profit thing,” said current Shuttle Service director, Shaan Chugh ’14.
The past year’s shuttle service came under criticism for losing approximately $2,000 for the ASSU in its operation under the Executive branch and became a political issue according to Ernestine Fu ’13, executive director of the ASSU Student Services Division.
“It’s extremely difficult for the Executive to run shuttles as they take a lot of time,” said Fu. “And they have no experience with shuttles.”
In order to counteract the stigma surrounding last year’s shuttle service and revitalize the project under the Student Services Division, Ernestine decided to recruit a Shuttle Service director for the first time since the birth of the program in 2007, “because even though it sounds like a pretty simple service, there’s obviously a lot more that goes into it. There’s marketing, you need to figure out the budget” as well as dealing with frantic phone calls on the shuttle operating days.
Starting in September, Ernestine interviewed a “wide variety” of students, “including a couple Masters students” for the position but chose Shaan Chugh in the end. “He’s actually a freshman this year, but we thought that he had a lot of business experience on his resume.”
“I don’t really think that just because you’re younger or you’re in a lower grade doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of organizing something,” said Fu. “In fact I think it might have been a little beneficial because freshmen in general are a little more motivated to do things.”
Fu and Chugh discovered that bulk-ordering tickets from Super Shuttle was the cheapest option available. A large portion of their time was spent acquiring various permissions and permits from Stanford Risk Management.
“There’s a lot of legal issues,” said Chu. “So obviously we want to make sure that we follow everything correctly before we do something illegal.”
The SSD then passed on the necessary information to Stanford Parking and Transportation and set shuttle routes. Fu and Chugh worked on marketing the service and selling tickets between early November and early December.
According to Chugh, once the shuttle information was in the hands of Stanford Parking and Transportation, “it was their job to get the shuttles organized and make sure that they were at a particular stop at a certain time.”
One new feature of the service was saving two empty seats on the shuttles in order to avoid overcrowding and provide extra space for late students on later shuttles.
Jodie Ha ’14 used the ASSU shuttle service on Friday morning because “[she] thought it would be more reliable, it was school sponsored and it was cheaper.”
She was somewhat confused because it was not apparent that the ASSU shuttle was provided through the Super Shuttle service.
“We didn’t know it was a SuperShuttle so we were waiting for a bus, so every [driver] would [ask], ‘Oh where are you going?’ and we [answered], ‘No, no, we’re not taking SuperShuttle.’”
Despite this slight confusion, the miscommunication was cleared up and according to Ha, she would use the service again.
“I signed up for the ASSU shuttle as soon as I heard about it,” said another rider, Thomissa Comellas ’14. “And I hope they do it again next year.”
“It went off fairly smoothly,” said Chugh. “But if I could, since a lot people had questions about exactly where exactly the stops were, I would make that a little more clear.”
Now the SSD is looking for more ways to improve the shuttle service and generate interest in the service for spring and summer quarter as well as preparing next year’s Student Service Division for operating the shuttle service.
“I wanted to create follow up documents,” said Fu. “Pretty much leaving [instructions] for whoever takes on the position next year. And we obviously want to solicit a shuttle service chapter early on in spring so that we can train and guide them early to take on the reins for next year.”