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Revamped ASSU shuttle program to run from campus for winter break

The new RideGrouped site will launch for shuttle service before Winter break. (LAUREN WILSON/The Stanford Daily)

Students traveling home for winter break next month will be offered the use of a reformed ASSU shuttle service program, in an effort to make the service more accessible to students while limiting the losses the program has sustained in previous years.

RideGrouped, a student-run startup, aims to pair students travelling to the same destination at similar times through an online booking system, allowing students to access a discounted price of $15 as opposed to the $26 charged for services such as Shuttle. The RideGrouped site will open for student usage on Thursday.

“We kept on getting pestered by all these notifications online [of people seeking shared rides],” said Jai Sajnani ’15, RideGrouped’s cofounder. “[RideGrouped] is a pretty simple solution to that problem.”

While in previous years the ASSU would exclusively reserve a set number of SuperShuttle vans, estimating the total student demand for the service, that practice – with the exception of a small number of vans scheduled for this winter break – will be discontinued under the new program, minimizing sunk costs.

Pairing interested students directly will also make the service more accessible to students looking to book rides at the last minute.

“People like to wait until the last minute to book their shuttle, and it’s kind of hard to manage the exclusive shuttle system like that,” Sajnani said. “If someone’s trying to book a shuttle two days before their flight, they’re not going to have the option [if they’re] using the [old] ASSU service.”

“As long as someone else is travelling at a similar time to you, and you’re going to the same location…that works out, and they can travel with you,” Sajnani said.

While previous shuttle offerings have departed at set times from Tresidder Union and Escondido Road, Sajnani said that the ability of the RideGrouped service to depart from more locations – of which five are currently planned – could potentially increase demand for the service among students.

“The system gives you a lot more flexibility in that there’s more potential for a ride that you can join and greater potential for the discounted cost at a time that’s more convenient for you and at a location that’s closer to your dorm,” Sajnani said.

While Sajnani expressed optimism that greater flexibility and accessibility for interested students would minimize the risk of a unaccompanied shuttle ride, students unable to find someone else travelling to the same place at the same time will still pay $20, the approximate cost of a regular SuperShuttle journey.

RideGrouped enjoyed success during a trial run in Larkin last year, and Sajnani cited a positive reception by the ASSU and the University as contributing to the site’s expansion.

“Because we are offering something that should be more accessible to students and will allow more students to participate in this discounted ride program, that’s what made them really receptive,” Sajnani said.

While RideGrouped will provide shuttle services for students leaving campus, students returning to campus from local airports will still have to find their own way back to campus.

“That’s a whole other ballgame,” Sajnani said. “You’re dealing with a lot of other variables that come into play.”

RideGrouped hopes a successful effort at Stanford will pave the way to use by a broader audience.

“If this works well, it’ll be a great step for us,” Sajnani said.

About Marshall Watkins

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.