Question Time: Are Private Shuttles Allowed to Stop at Muni Bus Stops?

Photo courtesy of Kirk Brooks

Photo courtesy of Kirk Brooks

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A reader recently wrote us about private buses using Muni bus stops to pick up customers.

I ride the 48 bus most mornings from Noe Valley to Caltrain at 22nd St. Like a lot of other folks I work down on the Peninsula and live in the city. I’ve noticed the big private buses that ferry workers to and from their jobs frequently block the bus stops. I haven’t been able to get a good answer about whether those buses are actually allowed to do that. The stop on 24th @ Valencia is a particularly bad area for this. It seems at least two companies use this bus stop for their employees to wait for their buses.

Let me say I totally support the concept of the big companies running those buses. I realize it is generally good for all of us in terms of limiting the number of cars on the road, less impact on the air, etc. I’d ride one if I could. My problem is these buses are creating hassles and safety problems for us Muni riders. I know — “hassles” and “Muni” are like fraternal twins but the safety issues aren’t funny.

Photo courtesy of Kirk Brooks

Today was a particularly bad incident. A black bus was blocking the bus stop and a gentleman using a wheelchair was waiting to board. First there’s a scramble of people into the street to get on the bus. Since the bus driver can’t see the man waiting another rider has to alert him about the man in the chair. The gentleman in the chair has to figure out how to get off the sidewalk and how to maneuver to a place where the driver can lower the lift. This doesn’t seem right, doesn’t seem fair or respectful and may well be a violation of the ADA.

I also wonder how Coach America gets to run a bus registered in Wyoming in San Francisco. When I moved here I got a ticket for not registering my vehicle within 20 days of being here. This bus is particularly annoying because it is apparently ordered to wait for stragglers so it blocks the stop for several minutes.

I notice other buses use the bus stops much as regular buses do — they stop, people get on, they leave — and there aren’t issues. The situation at 24th and Valencia is not good and needs to be changed. I want to make some noise about this. There has to be a different solution for the situation there. Most likely it will mean moving the private stops a block or two. I hope it doesn’t require someone getting hurt to get people’s attention.

So, what does the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority have to say about all this?

Spokeswoman Kristen Holland says the SFMTA supports the use of company shuttles because they help reduce single-occupancy car trips however she says they are not allowed to use Muni stops.

According to San Francisco’s traffic code, a vehicle such as a shuttle bus that is picking up or dropping off passengers is allowed to idle for no more than five minutes. Violation of the idling rule is $100.

“If a parking control officer sees the infraction, he or she can cite it,” Holland says. However, “enforcement isn’t an effective, long-term solution.”

The SFMTA is working with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), which drafted a report to use as a starting point to improve transportation demand management efforts. Holland says they want to work with the companies that provide these shuttle services, those that employ them and the communities they serve to ensure that there is a workable solution.

When people contact SFMTA with issues like this, Holland says, they follow up with the shuttle providers to “either create a location-specific solution or remind them to reinforce with their drivers the need to not impede public transportation.”

As for the issue of a vehicle registered in another state, California Public Utilities Commission spokeswoman Susan Carothers says that the license plate alone doesn’t tell us whether the bus is making an intra- or interstate trip. Buses that make intrastate trips are required to have California plates; buses making interstate trips are not. If you know that a bus that is not registered in California is making intrastate trips, you can contact the U.S. Department of Transportation or your local CHP office to complain.

Filed under: Front Page, Transportation

24 Comments

  1. Steve

    The Facebook (black Bauer shuttles) stop is moving from 24th & Valencia to 25th & Valencia next week to help ease the congestion mentioned at this stop.

    • GoogieGomez

      What??? Was thee any notices about this change and if so do you know if these buses are going down 25th Street from Valencia? Reason is just like 24th Street, 25th Street is narrow and quite busy with traffic. On the other hand, 26th Street which the 27 goes down seems more appropriate. Oh well!

  2. Mona

    I agree – have you ever been to Noe Valley at about 6 pm to watch them all get off the bus and join their blond wives and kids to eat there? Very few of those kids attend the public middle school two blocks away (I worked there briefly several years ago). Parasites on our city, I say.

    • Easy

      I’ve lived in San Francisco for about 10 years, and about 3 years ago started working for one of these companies and taking their shuttle. So I hope you would consider me your neighbor first, and one of those “opportunistic” “parasites” second. Also my wife has brown hair and taught public school in the Excelsior, so take that.

    • marco

      Talk about racist comments! I would think that Mission Local would not tolerate racism in its posts. For example: If it weren’t for all the Facebook, Google, Zynga employees in San Francisco, there wouldn’t be any restaurant jobs for the Mexicans. Did you ever think of it that way?

      • dan

        Never realized blonde was a race.

        We did not have these shuttles 10 years ago and I don’t recall any shortage of restaurants.

        Ideally, these companies should move to SF, or open offices here, if so many of their employees want to live here. The original reason most of these places were headquartered in the valley was because that’s where the talent was. If the talent is now in the city, it would make sense to move the offices here too. Long commutes — whether by bus or car or train — are bad for the employees, bad for their families, bad for communities, and bad for the environment.

        • marco

          No, blond is not a race, but Mona is implying white people. If she said, “watch the brown people get off the bus… those parasites,” I’m sure nobody would cry “racism.”

          Or, we can just let Mona explain what she meant by her broad generalization that Google employees are blond haired Caucasians who are parasites on the city.

      • GoogieGomez

        Whoa, your comment about Mexicans working the resaurants is taking on a racist attitude. So what’s up with that?? and definately don’t be fooled by my moniker!

    • Winton

      Likely they’re paying the vast majority of taxes that pay for the school down the street. I would say the real parasites are those who don’t contribute anything to the economy but use all the services, such as free food, subsidized housing, free schools, homeless services, drug counseling services, immigrant services, etc etc.

      • jsonie

        Well Winton, those of us who actually live and have lived here for 10 to 20 years have VOTED on those free services you complain about so much. WE decided this as a city and as a community that this is the kind of city WE wanted. Now I don’t personally support all of those policies but I understand where they came from and I don’t pretend to be outraged about people “not contributing” because these are collective decisions we have all made through a democratic process. If you don’t like it, move.

        Again, you seem to be under the illusion that San Francisco exists solely on the backs of the .com industry. That is both a highly ego-centric and highly entitled viewpoint that as a whole captures the attitude of fake-San Francisco commuters who have no ties to the city, no investment in the community and no history here.

        • randolph mortimer

          so you’re the one responsible for the public policies leading to the crime, homelessness and quality of life crimes existing in the Mission ? good work with that, no wonder you hate white people with jobs so much.

    • randolph mortimer

      i’d love to see how much you pay in tax towards SF (if you even do) compared to these so called parasites. maybe you should read a book on economics while you work on that racism of yours.

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