Since Oct. 5, the new Saturday grocery shuttle service has offered a grocery run for all UC San Diego students to Convoy St., Kearny Mesa. The shuttle picks up students at Mandeville Lane Loop and runs every 30 minutes from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Saturday. It drops off students near 99 Ranch Market, H-Mart, Target, and surrounding shopping plazas.
Back in the summer, a Saturday grocery committee was created in June to start up the project. It was led by Associated Student with the help from Housing, Dining, & Hospitality, Transportation Services, Basic Needs Hub, Off Campus Housing and College Outreach Coordinators. Basic Needs Coordinator Alicia Magallanes seeded the project to develop a new shuttle route, increasing UCSD student access to affordable and culturally diverse grocery stores that also accept CalFresh.
“UC San Diego’s students represent broad ethnic and geographic diversity and as such, we want to ensure we’re meeting the varied needs within our student body,” committee member James DeLucia said to the Guardian in an email. “Specifically, Outreach Coordinators mapped grocery store locations, Transportation Services helped design the routines to travel off-campus, and other representatives from departments including Residence Life and Associated Student supported the initiative and raised awareness. The grocery shuttle is free and no funding is requested from AS.”
Before initiating the project in fall, the committee ran a one-day pilot in the summer. The shuttle followed the designed routine and asked for students’ riding experience. With overwhelming support for the shuttle, the state gave funding to Basic Needs and Transportation Services to continue the initiative in fall quarter.
“87 percent student feedback was positive,” Manu Agni, the AS Associated Vice President on Transportation and Transformation said. “That went well so the project followed up in fall quarter… As of now, the shuttle is a great success and highly utilized. The first Saturday had more than 1,300 riders, which was well beyond the capacity and the following Saturdays averaged between 600-700 passengers.”
The committee also cooperated with some grocery stores to offer merchant discount. With valid student ID present at checkout, students can receive a 5-percent discount on weekends at 99 Ranch. Balboa International Market also applies a 5-percent discount for every item purchased.
“It’s convenient and free,” commented Marshall college freshman Yin Huang on the grocery shuttle. “You get to go out to eat and buy groceries … [However] with each stop, the bus takes on more people, so some [people] had to stand … If you have bags of groceries, it’s better to Uber or Lyft ‘cause you will most likely be standing.”
According to Manu, the project’s continuation and possible expansion will depend on three factors: ridership, merchant participation, and student feedback. The committee will continue to gather students feedback to ensure students interest remains consistent. They will also receive feedback from the cooperating grocery stores regarding the number of student customers increases after the initiation of the grocery shuttle service.
“[The project] is student effort [and] student-focus … It’s the first one among UC,” commented Manu. The committee wants to evaluate and improve upon their project by primarily taking in student feedback.
If students would like to take the grocery shuttle, they can track the shuttle’s real-time location on the UCSD Shuttle Website.