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San Mateo firm wins Stanford shuttle bid

STANFORD -- Effective Sept. 1, Industrial Passenger Service of San Mateo, Calif., will take over operation of Stanford University's Marguerite shuttle bus service.

Diego Terneus of the university's Transportation Programs office said Industrial won a competitive bid to provide the free service that links Stanford with downtown Palo Alto, two commuter train stations, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Marguerite buses also transport people across campus.

The service previously was supplied by St. Clair Shuttle Bus of Mountain View.

Terneus described Industrial as one of the largest and most experienced shuttle firms in the Bay Area. It has contracts to provide commuter "feeder" service at many Caltrain stations on the peninsula and shuttle service for the disabled in the East Bay.

Industrial will use 25-seat shuttles powered by propane- gasoline engines on the Stanford routes. Within a month or so, all the buses used at Stanford will sport a red-and-white paint job and will feature light-emitting diode destination displays, Industrial spokesman Bob Imperial said.

While some of the buses may not feature the color scheme right away, all will be clearly marked, Imperial said. Existing routes, time schedules and stops will not change, Imperial said.

Moving to a new contractor, Terneus added, gives Transportation Programs an opportunity to improve the shuttle service. Some improvements and refinements will be based on the results of a December 1990 passenger survey, which was released this August.

The survey of 210 passengers, who represent 35 percent of total daily ridership, was generally favorable to the service. The overall approval rating was 76 percent, with 17 percent believing the service needed improvement. (The remaining 7 percent stated no opinion.)

Riders rated the Marguerite in 12 categories. The highest rating of respondents was 87 percent who said cleanliness was good to adequate; the lowest, 68 percent, was people who had complained and considered response to complaints good to adequate.

Seventy percent of respondents said service hours were good to adequate, and 26 percent said they needed improvement. Terneus said most of the respondents who gave negative ratings to service hours were students, who made up less than one-quarter of the respondent group. Staff, who composed two-thirds of the respondents, were far more pleased with the schedules. Even so, Terneus said, officials might consider adding evening and weekend hours primarily for students, if funding becomes available in the future.

Other categories, all of which earned "good to adequate" ratings of between 68 and 87 percent, included drivers' attitude, drivers' knowledge, availability of information, readability of information, drivers' skills, service area, comfort of buses, service frequency and adherence to schedule.

Riders also were asked whether they would continue to ride the Marguerite if a fee were charged; nearly 50 percent said they would not. More than one-third said they would pay a fare -- if it was a quarter or less per ride.

"The strong negative response we received regarding a charge for service, the drop in ridership if such an action were to take place, and the administrative mechanism that would be needed if a fare were to be implemented, lead us to conclude that charging for Marguerite services would have a negative impact on the service," the survey report concluded. "In addition, asking staff to make one more sacrifice at this time would further impact on morale."

For the same reason, Transportation Programs did not levy an annual increase in campus parking permits for 1991-92. Because the prices were held (at $50 or $200, depending on location), some cutbacks in services were made over the summer.



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