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Grocery Shuttle To Start

Grocery Shuttle To Start

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate News Editor

A grocery shuttle for MIT students organized by the Graduate Student Council and sponsored by Laverde's Star Market will begin operation this Saturday. The shuttle will pick up students at several MIT locations for the 15 minute trip to the Medford store.

David S. Cuthbert G organized the grocery shuttle, after raising the issue at the January GSC meeting.. "I contacted several of the local retailers," Cuthbert said. Stop and Shop and the Star Market chain both turned down the offer, he said.

Cuthbert then contacted Frank Laverde, owner of Laverde's Market in the Student Center and the store in Medford. Laverde agreed to help fund the shuttle.

Laverde's Star Market is a full service supermarket in a shopping plaza, and includes bakery, produce, deli, and other traditional sections. It honors Star specials and accepts Star coupons, Laverde said.

The store is "less expensive than Cambridge," according to Laverde. Its prices are lower thanprices at Purity Supreme and Stop and Shop in Cambridge, he said.

Positive student response

Cuthbert distributed a survey about the grocery shuttle in Januarye. The survey asked about potential use of the service and if students were willing to to pay for it. Cuthbert received over 250 positive responses to his survey, and many students said they would spend a dollar more for the shuttle, he said.

A second survey found that 85 percent of students interested in the shuttle favored the arrangement with Laverde, who offered to cover the expenses of the shuttle, estimated cost at $120 to $150 per week, Cuthbert said.

Howard D. Lewis '95, a Bexley resident who buys most of his own food, said that it is inconvenient to carry groceries back from the T stop after grocery shopping off-campus. The grocery shuttle would be useful, Lewis said, as long as it was able to meet the demands of the students.

Mario Bercaro G also supported the shuttle, citing the high cost of buying food locally and the transportation difficulties. Juan D. Bruno G, who cooks daily and shops once a week, agreed that the shuttle was a good idea and said, "It's about time someone came up with an idea like that."

Shuttle to run through semester

Laverde also provides a weekly busing service for elderly customers. He does not know whether or not it makes money, but is willing to fund it because he feels it is a worthy service. The MIT shuttle is "a shot in the dark," he said, because he is not sure how successful it will be.

"He's doing it as a community service," Cuthbert said. Cuthbert said he does not knowif Laverde will break profit from the arrangement.

The shuttle will run through the end of the semester; then Laverde and a Graduate Student Council representative will determine whether it is worth continuing next semester. LaVerde thought 50 riders per week might be a reasonable benchmark for gauging its success. Cuthbert estimated that possibly 100 people would be using the service every Saturday.

The shuttle will be a standard school bus seating between 35 and 40 grocery-laden passengers, Cuthbert said. It will depart from MIT at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. every Saturday. Return trips will leave Laverde's Star Market at 12:40 p.m., 1:40 p.m., and 2:40 p.m. Additional service may be added if there is more demand, said Cuthbert.

The bus will pick students up at building E40, Senior House, Ashdown House, Burton House, Tang Hall, Edgerton House, and across the street from Random Hall.

Although the grocery shuttle is being launched under the auspices of the Graduate Student Council, all students will be welcome to use it, Cuthbert said.

(Vipul Bhushan contributed to the reporting of this story.)