Marguerite Shopping Express to return under a one-year pilot program following GSC advocacy

April 3, 2023, 11:31 p.m.

The Marguerite Shopping Express is returning temporarily and partially beginning early May, the University announced on March 21. 

The route will run between the Stanford campus, the Palo Alto Transit Center and the San Antonio Shopping Center located in Mountain View. Riders will have hourly access to the shuttle every Friday afternoon and evening as well as all day on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the Stanford Transportation website

The finalized schedule for the Shopping Express will be posted on April 28. 

The decision comes after continued student advocacy spearheaded by representatives of the Graduate Student Council (GSC). The advocacy has broadly addressed affordability concerns including calls to increase the graduate student stipend and encouraging transparency on how minimum salary adjustments are calculated. 

However, the return may only be temporary as the route is being brought back as a one-year pilot program.

According to University spokesperson Stett Holbrook, the University will be “monitoring ridership from each stop, on each day.” Holbrook added that, in regards to the potential for a full return of the Shopping Express, “additional parameters for assessing the pilot are under development.”

Noting the temporary nature of the Shopping Express’s pilot program, Emily Schell, GSC co-chair and fifth-year Ph.D. student in developmental and psychological sciences, stated that she and her fellow councilors “worry that a 3-day return may overtax an already in-demand service.” 

“We had to fight tooth and nail to get this small step towards a more affordable campus for all of our community members,” Schell wrote. She acknowledged the return comes after the “historic” event in which the GSC unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in Stanford’s leadership in February.

Addressing Stanford community members on the desire for Marguerite services to be fully restored to their pre-pandemic levels, Schell wrote on behalf of the GSC that “We encourage you all to use the line when it returns in May. We will continue to push for more comprehensive data on the line’s usage to encourage a full and permanent return of the line.”

Within the GSC’s Bill on Affordability, its recommendation on campus transportation titled “Mobility in Post-Pandemic Era: A Large Demand for a Small Offer,” noted that, “In 2019, 91,936 riders used the Shopping Express line to access critical groceries and housing supplies, which are either difficult to obtain via bike or additionally expensive by car rental/rideshare.”

The Shopping Express was shut down in September 2020, reportedly due to a “lack of parking revenue.”

Schell expressed support for the route’s return: “The Shopping Express is one small, but important step that the University needs to take to address the growing affordability crisis facing graduate students, especially given the last three-years of pay-cuts to graduate students’ minimum salaries and increasing on-campus costs,” Schell wrote. 

“We are appreciative that the University is bringing the line back in some form, as it is an essential resource for our community to access basic needs,” she added. 

Elizabeth Park, GSC transportation committee co-chair and third-year chemistry Ph.D. student, stressed that the continued advocacy for the pre-pandemic Shopping Express “is not just for graduate students — the transportation issues impact nearly everyone on campus, [including] undergrad students, grad students, faculty, and staff.” 

“We also will continue to push on other important affordability initiatives, although the University appears unwilling to meet students halfway on any of our other needs,” Schell said.

Holbrook wrote to The Daily that “The [GSC] first inquired about the return of the Shopping Express in August. Most recently the GSC, ASSU, the undergraduate senate and [the Stanford University Postdoctoral Association] all came together with the [Vice Provost of Graduate Education], Transportation, [Office of Postdoctoral Affairs], and [Vice Provost of Student Affairs] to provide input on the schedule and route.”

The service began during the 2000-2001 academic year. According to Susan Law in a 2000 interview with The Daily, then-Stanford Parking and Transportation Services (now Stanford Transportation) representative, it was hailed as an essential service that was open to all members of the Stanford community and centered on giving freshmen “the chance to leave campus regularly, to do things like errands or go to the movies or to eat out.” 

Since its inaugural service and now-temporary return, some students say they’ve seen a difference in how the University approaches student issues. “[When the Shopping Express started], it seems the University cared about the quality of life of the students, things we cannot say now of this current administration,” Park wrote.

Sebastian Strawser ‘26 is an Opinions contributor. He also writes for Humor and The Grind. His interests include political philosophy, capybaras and Filipino food. Contact Sebastian at sstrawser 'at'

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