Staff, faculty weigh in on managing tourist visits

bus tour area
A new tour bus parking area with picnic tables and bathroom facilities is taking shape at the corner of Lasuen and Campus Drive.

Beginning later this month, Stanford will institute its third tour-bus policy change in less than five years to better manage the overwhelming number of campus visitors. Tourist buses, which have been parked on Roth Way between Palm and Lomita drives since 2011, will be moving to Lasuen Street at Campus Drive.

Picnic tables and a bathroom facility have been added at that intersection for tourist use. The area will open Aug. 17.

As part of the announcement of the policy change, Parking & Transportation Services (P&TS) created an online comment form and invited faculty, staff and others to suggest how buses and tourists could best be managed.

“Almost all of the suggestions involved changes to university policy that go beyond the scope of our department’s purview in managing bus parking,” said BRIAN SHAW, director of Parking & Transportation Services. “But the comments will help inform a broader discussion.”

The comment form remains open as a convenient way for the campus community to make suggestions about the tour bus protocol, especially as it becomes effective.

Initial results from those filling out the comment form suggest staff and faculty applaud the university’s efforts to reduce disruptions from commercial tour bus sightseeing. But they have a few suggestions that might make the experience easier for the campus community, as well as the thousands of tourists who visit.

Comments for broader consideration so far suggest that some eager tourists may be creating challenging situations for faculty and staff, especially on the Main Quadrangle. Said one respondent, “It is a serious distraction when I give lectures in the Main Quad. Tourists peer through the window, talking and taking photos.”

Other comments reflect the realization among faculty and staff that Stanford has become a major tourist attraction. Said one respondent, “Good luck in your planning efforts to finding a viable solution to Stanford’s growing challenges as a world-class university and a modern-day eighth wonder of the world!”

Some of the comments and suggestions offered so far are addressed through the new facilities at Lasuen and Campus Drive and through changes in the tour-bus protocol and updates to the tour-bus parking map. Comments include:

• Better redirect tourists to the Cantor Arts Center and the Anderson Collection at Stanford University.
• Discourage tourists from frequenting bathrooms on the Main Quadrangle, watching staff and faculty through windows and walking into their offices and classrooms.
• Require visitors to take official Stanford tours rather than allowing them to freely wander the campus.
• Improve signage for visitors and consider offering translations in different languages.
• Create areas where tourists can be redirected away from the Main Quadrangle to take photographs, establishing, for instance, a “Welcome to Stanford” sign.
• Distinguish between people who have been invited by faculty and staff to campus and visitors who are sightseeing as part of a commercial tour. (P&TS is reaching out to departments on campus to encourage advance registration of invited groups. When groups are registered in advance, public safety is notified and assistance can be provided for boarding and alighting buses at locations throughout campus.)