Bus stop

Muni could collect millions in fines against private shuttles — but it won't



Each weekday, gleaming white buses operated by Google and other Silicon Valley tech giants roll through congested San Francisco streets and pause for several minutes in public bus stops, picking up passengers bound for sprawling tech campuses.

Using bus zones for private passenger pickup is not legal — but so far, that hasn't resulted in any kind of systematic enforcement. It did boil over as an issue when it became the focal point of the Dec. 9 Google bus blockade, a Monday morning rush hour episode staged by anti-gentrification activists that went viral thanks to Bay Guardian video coverage, spurring commentary by Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and dozens of other media outlets.



The significance of the private buses as a symbol for an economically divided San Francisco, private service that spares a high-salaried class of workers from the delays, crowds, and service breakdowns that can plague Muni, has never been more resonant. The shuttles are frequently mentioned in conjunction with eviction and displacement, since apartment units in proximity to shuttle routes have become more desirable and expensive.

And as more shuttles are sent out to transport passengers, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has come under increasing pressure to solve the logistical and other problems they create.

"Our policies are catching up to this new transportation mode," SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said in a recent phone call. "The shuttle service has been growing very rapidly."

Accordingly, SFMTA is working on a pilot program to allow Google and other providers of private shuttle buses to share space in Muni bus zones in an organized fashion. The policy would establish a set of guidelines around boarding and alighting, implement measures to prevent Muni delays, create a formal permitting process, and require the shuttles to display identifying placards.

Although Muni needs funding to improve its aging infrastructure (see "Street Fight"), this plan to accommodate private shuttles would not result in any new revenue collection for the agency. Google and other private shuttle providers would be charged a fee under the program, but it would go only toward cost recovery, allowing the agency to break even.

Leslie Dreyer, one of the masterminds behind the Google bus blockade, calculated that the SFMTA could theoretically collect $1 billion if it aggressively targeted private shuttles for violating the Curb Priority Law, which prohibits vehicles other than Muni from using designated bus zones.

"It's a ballpark estimate," Dreyer said, describing her project as more of a thought experiment to illustrate a broader point. "We were trying to get people to think about ... the bigger issue of what these things symbolize: evictions, gentrification."

Dreyer based her findings on a color-coded chart released by SFMTA in July, showing the frequency of shuttle stops at 200 known locations. Paul Rose insisted the $1 billion estimate was too high because the total number of daily private shuttle trips is actually lower. He added that it's more than just Google that is using the stops: At least 27 institutions and employers provide private shuttles in SF, according to data compiled by SFMTA.

But even based on the information that Rose provided, that same calculation shows that Muni could collect $500-600 million in fines from all the shuttle providers. That's theoretically enough to augment a sizeable portion of Muni's annual operating budget, which is around $800 million.

The pilot program for sharing bus zone space with private shuttles is expected to be reviewed by the SFMTA board early next year, and it could be implemented by July of 2014. It does not require approval by the Board of Supervisors.



hispanic woman.

Neat way to deflect all those whack jobs in the Mission who whine about them.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

Wet brain or cirrhosis?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

is usually a soft science class, then reading the Bay Guardian.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

My money's on wet brain based on the evolution of your comments.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

you get laid in those womens studies classes?

Tell them you feel guilty having a penis.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 1:18 am

Lefties usually end up being single or gay.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 7:28 am

for the leftest male.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

is no way to go through life. Try your left hand for a different experience.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 8:27 am

Gee, I thought that was the way the human species endures.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 9:00 am

of PC speak is sexist.

Having seen guys try and male feminist their way into the good graces of womens studies types I'm hardly saying anything sexist. Just pointing out the sad facts of the hive mind fringe left.

The entertainment value of our progressives.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Stick it to the man! - oh yeah, you are the man.

Posted by Richmondman on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

but money will solve all our problems.

The progressive conundrum.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

Sustainability means living where you work. Move to Sunnyvale, Mountain View, etc. They will welcome you with open arms. Making SF a bedroom community: is the wrong direction literally and figuratively. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Oracle: build dorms for your workers. That's the sustainable answer. If you provide free food, gyms, napping rooms, etc. you should be providing housing. You'll still make a buck on it. You're cash rich and should be able to develop housing with attractive (subsidized, if necessary) rents to create an incentive for your workers to live near your campi.
Instead of working on outer space vehicles, why not work on down-to-earth problems like housing the very workers you are importing from other parts of the country.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

Everyone should travel as far as their little legs can take them and no farther!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

No, everyone should lighten their footprint towards sustainability, and that means taking steps to lower the impacts of often repeated tasks like commuting to work. I contribute to sustainability by bicycling to and from work every day. That is feasible because I live near where I work. People who work in Silicon Valley should live near where they work if they make pretenses towards being sustainable.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

And if for some reason they can't live near their jobs then there should be some type of bus provided to transport as many of them as possible to their job -- using just one vehicle instead of many.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

Why are lefties constantly trying to meddle in the lives of others/

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 7:27 am

Maybe they want to live in the city - who cares? Quit acting as if your nobility should govern the choices of others. A tech worker who lives in SF and takes a shuttle to Mountain View isn't adding to congestion or CO2 emissions by taking a seat on the shuttle anymore than someone who takes MUNI from Geary to FiDi is. The shuttle is going to run with out without them on it - the bus will run with or without a rider on it as well.

Go displace some Hispanic people now Mark - you're quite good at that seeing as how you did it in your Mission abode you hypocrite.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

was a pretty standard mantra for decades by the left, it made cities broke and took business and taxes with them to the burbs.

Now that the trend is the other way and it's an atrocity too.

What works for you this minute?

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

This is all just silly. These buses are not causing the delays that are causing us problems. It's the private cars. The single occupancy cars! Have we forgotten the double parked cars and trucks, the cars parked at fire hydrants, cars are constantly waiting in bus stops, taxi's are loading passengers everywhere.... COME ON FOLKS. This is petty. Just because they have big pockets. But this is not the issue that you have a problem with!

Focus on the real issue. How do we make SF a more livable city for everyone! How do we prevent no-fault evictions of long term tenants? Can we create equity through enhanced wages? How do we better help people in need of housing and services? AND then how do we create a better transportation system, how do we fund education, and how do we prioritize kids and their families?! There so many REAL issues here!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 18, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

You want one way that San Francisco can prioritize kids and families? Don't force kids to go across the city for schooling because you want to increase "diversity". One of the most important factors in purchasing a home are the neighborhood schools. If I purchase a home in the Richmond, I want my teenager going to Wash not Balboa because some progressive thinks there needs to be a racial quota at a school.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

Thank you for this great, informed article. It is too bad that the comments section of SFBG has been taken over by trolls. These buses are using public infrastructure and are unwilling to pay their fare share like the rest of us.

What google and the other companies should do is support the expansion of public bus and train service between the city and the peninsula, then run shorter shuttles to their campuses. That would be a far greener solution and would avoid much of this controversy. Also some nice practice riding the bus would introduce some of these fine successful people to the culture of the city they are inhabiting.

Posted by Guest in the Machine on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 6:31 am

"These buses are using public infrastructure and are unwilling to pay their fare share like the rest of us."

What article did you read? This one says that they are going to pay for their use of the bus stops, but that the city isn't asking them to pay for more than what they use. Which is sort of the definition of "fair".

When you say that they don't pay their fair share "like the rest of us" can you provide an example of where you pay more than what your Muni service costs the city?

Or are you just babbling with whatever comes to mind?

Sorry for being a Troll; I just have a problem when people make stuff up. My bad.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 6:55 am

We all agree that MUNI is plagued by delays when trying to offer a "schedule" to transit riders. Reliability is hampered by congested lanes, double-parked cars, and blocked bus stops. That's why we have transit-only lanes, laws against double parking (yes, even for a minute when you just wants to "run in and out" of your establishment), and let's not forget those fines of $271 for cars in a bus-stop. These laws are all put in place to TRY and keep MUNI moving and serving the public.

Along come the humongous private buses rolling into public bus stops, sometimes inches away from waiting MUNI riders' faces. It is so sad to sees these buses co-opting public space to pick up and drop off their pampered tech employees while making all others including school-age kids and the elderly walk between vehicles or into the street and between vehicles to board their MUNI bus. This is an affront to the entire shared transportation system. It's selfish and self-centered.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Nothing says "I'm a transplant!" like seeing nothing wrong with private companies flagrantly breaking the law every day, multiple times a day with no repercussions. Pack up your bags and go back to your red state, the Bay Area is not for you.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 9:52 am

wants to live in SF because it is "cool" even though he makes no financial contribution, cannot afford SF and thinks he is too good for Oakland.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 10:56 am

Give me your poor
your impoverished
your huddled masses
yearning to breath free
Oakland is calling to me

Posted by Pete Moss on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 11:30 am

to sustain themselves in a town that is expensive for their earning power.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 11:42 am

San Francisco is an oppressive police state run by greedy plutocrats.

Posted by Homer Simpson on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 11:59 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

San Francisco is a filthy dump over run with disgusting, aggressive inebriates and bums.

Posted by H Hawthorne Folsom III on Dec. 19, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Like being a knee jerk progressive.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 2:22 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 12:34 am

Google just bought a company that builds military drones.

Guess that isn't evil.

lol.........get out of SF and stay out.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Did anyone notice that THIS sites, search bar is run by Google. Which is used to help this site cater, to its readers with "Custom Searches." That are designed to allow this site. "To help people find what they need on your website" (Google website). OR the fact that you can find all of the protest bus footage on YOUTUBE. Which is part of GOOGLE. YOU SHIT LICKING RETARDS.

Basically, without Google. We could not get a lot done.

And if one of those protester Fucks pulls out an Android phone. My belief in humanity will end.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 11:22 pm

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