Stanford at forefront of trend toward smaller, localized transit
STANFORD -- Stanford University has announced the expansion of its Marguerite shuttle, a free local transit system that connects the campus with the surrounding community and public transit lines.
The expansion supports a national trend toward using smaller, more flexible shuttle services to connect communities and larger transit lines. It is the cornerstone of phase one of the university's new Local Transit Plan and comprehensive transportation program.
The new service, tested since September and formally launched Monday, Oct. 9, adds more than 100 daily timed CalTrain connections at the Palo Alto and California Avenue train stations. Connections with the Dumbarton Express bus, the SamTrans 7F and other buses also have increased, creating new commute options for people coming from East Bay and peninsula locations.
In addition, service has expanded to four major commercial districts in Palo Alto: downtown, California Avenue, Town & Country Village and the Stanford Shopping Center. Marguerite hours of operation have been extended to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
"We have doubled our budget and hours of operation this year and plan to double the program again in 1996," said Julia Fremon, manager of Transportation Programs for Stanford.
According to Dianne McKenna, Santa Clara County supervisor and chairwoman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, "The Marguerite shuttle is a good example of what we hope to continue to see happening in public transit now and in years to come. Smaller, more frequent shuttle buses allow larger public transit lines to be integrated and more accessible so that cities, counties, businesses and citizens can be brought together without single-occupancy vehicles."
Stanford is already one of CalTrain's largest customers, carrying more than 350 Stanford commuters to campus every day. "Ninety percent of Stanford's daytime population lives within four miles of a CalTrain station, so there is a tremendous opportunity to bring hundreds more commuters to campus without a car each day," Fremon said. "We need to make it fast and easy for them to get from the train station to Stanford, and that's what the Marguerite does."
The bulk of Marguerite's $1 million budget is funded by Stanford, while program partners contribute about 16 percent. Partners for the program are the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, CalTrain, the Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford Health Services, and the City of Palo Alto.
Palo Alto City Councilwoman Jean McCown, also a representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said, "At a time when we all must be creative and look for ways to do more with less, the Marguerite is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership, which I hope can be extended further in the future."
The City of Palo Alto is considering a plan to implement a similar community shuttle service for Palo Alto residents that would complement the Marguerite service.
Under the terms of a 1989 General Use Permit agreement with Santa Clara County, Stanford is required to match any increases in the daytime campus population one-for-one with a combination of decreased automobile commute trips and new on-campus housing units for faculty, staff and students.
"We have a legal obligation to offset new population growth in a responsible way," Fremon said. "So we have a very aggressive program in place to meet that obligation." Stanford is well ahead of meeting the requirements of the 1989 agreement.
According to 1990 U.S. Census Bureau data, 45 percent of Stanford faculty and staff commute to campus by means other than a single-occupancy vehicle, compared to a county average of 22 percent. Twenty-one percent of all employees ride their bikes to work, compared to a county average of 1.4 percent.
"Our overall commitment is to responsible transportation management," Fremon said. "Every dollar spent in support of transportation alternatives is a dollar invested in a better future for Stanford and our community. The long-range benefits are enormous, including reduced congestion and air pollution; open space preservation through decreased need for parking lots; and great financial savings."
Stanford has operated the Marguerite shuttle for 20 years. Today it is the most extensive free local transit system in the Bay Area.
With a mandate to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, Stanford's Office of Transportation Programs also encourages the use of alternative transportation through the support of a full-time Bicycle Program Coordinator; incentives of up to $80 a year for people who choose not to purchase a parking permit; and a range of carpool, vanpool and transit programs.
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