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Airport Shuttle Service Buys Top Rival

August 19, 1986|JEFF ROWE

SuperShuttle said it acquired its major competitor, 24 Hour Airport Express of La Habra, thus expanding its fleet from 110 vans to 310 and allowing it to offer home-to-airport service throughout Orange County.

Details of the cash transaction were not disclosed, but Mitchell Rouse, founder and chairman of SuperShuttle, predicted the company will generate $15 million in revenue this year, more than double last year's total.

SuperShuttle had been limited to serving passengers at Long Beach Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood-Burbank Airport and Ontario Airport. 24 Hour Airport Express served only John Wayne Airport and airports in the San Gabriel and the San Fernando Valleys.

SuperShuttle said it will expand its Los Angeles County service to the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys in a few weeks, as soon as personnel can be trained and equipment prepared.

Earlier this month, SuperShuttle started service in Phoenix with 35 seven-passenger vans. The company said it expects to expand nationwide within three to four years through a combination of company-owned operations and franchises.

From its new headquarters near Los Angeles International Airport, SuperShuttle dispatches its vans via radio but is developing a $2-million computerized dispatch system that it expects to have operational in six months.

The company typically picks up several passengers in the same general neighborhood and guarantees that it will make no more than two additional stops en route to the airport.

SuperShuttle was born in January, 1983, when Rouse and Jim Zabrowski, a travel agent, began the service as a division of the Rouse family's Wilmington Cab Co. of California. With the help of a $500,000 infusion of private funds in 1985, Wilmington Cab spun off SuperShuttle as an independent company.

Rouse, who is also president of the company, grew up in the taxi business, and his family still owns 400 taxis, which are operated through L.A. Taxi, Long Beach Yellow Cab and United Checker Cab.

Getting SuperShuttle rolling cost about $250,000 in legal fees to win Public Utilities Commission approval for the venture. Initially, the company limited its service to LAX and the South Bay area of Los Angeles County.

The company expanded to San Francisco in October, 1985, and now serves the Bay Area with a fleet of about 50 vans.

Thus far, SuperShuttle has been low-key in marketing its service, preferring to pursue tie-ins with airlines, hotels and travel agents. But the company now plans to market its service more aggressively, said Bob Bir, newly hired marketing manager.

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