SFMTA Pilot Offers Little Change in Tech Shuttle Map

CLICK HERE FOR LARGER MAP. Map by Leslie Nguyen-Okwu.

When the SFMTA’s new pilot program to regulate tech shuttles starts in August, few will notice much change as the pilot program will shift the location of some stops but will keep close to the same number of stops operating in the Mission.

According to a map of proposed stops released by SFMTA, the program will remove six existing tech shuttle stops from the neighborhood, but it will add five new ones in slightly different locations.

Under the private-public collaboration, the proposed 18-month program will charge commuter shuttles including those from Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook  $1 for every stop for as many as 84 Muni bus stops citywide.

In the Mission, the tech shuttle stops at Mission and 15th Street, Dolores and 16th, Potrero and 18th, Valencia and 20th, Valencia and 26th, Valencia and 24th and Church and 24th will no longer be used as of August 1. However, new stops are being added to existing public Muni stops at 16th Street and Mission, 18th and Mission, Caesar Chavez and Valencia, Caesar Chavez and Mission and Caesar Chavez and Alabama.

Because the tech shuttles have been largely unregulated up until now, our map above gives an approximate picture of the situation now and what it will look like after the pilot program gets started. According to Kirsten Holland, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, the agency did not have complete information on where the shuttles are currently operating.

But in a rough comparison of maps from Stamen Design and Dotspotting, there are currently 14 tech shuttle stops scattered throughout the Mission. Once the pilot program goes into effect, there will be 13.

“We need consistency,” said Carli Paine, an SFMTA project planner in charge of the pilot program, who spoke earlier this month at a public hearing. “The purpose of this pilot is to really test out, ‘Can we accommodate these shuttle operations—and can we do that with minimal impact on the existing network?’”

According to Holland, the proposed shuttle stops were selected for the new pilot network based on feedback from 18 shuttle providers and community input by way of an interactive map. The SFMTA also conducted field observations to better understand the conflicts where Muni buses and tech shuttles were occurring.

“I think that’s great for everybody,” said an Apple employee of the pilot program as he boarded the 8 a.m. commuter shuttle on Mission near 15th Street. “I live about a 10-minute walk away, so it’d be easier to get to work for me.”

“As long as the supply can meet the demand, that’s fine,” said another as he also took the commuter shuttle on Mission near 15th Street.

Under the private-public collaboration, the program will charge the private shuttles $1 for every stop per day at 84 Muni bus stops citywide. According to city officials, state law prohibits the city from charging more. But a group of tenant activists and labor leaders filed a lawsuit earlier this month opposing the program, explaining that it violates state traffic code and environmental law.

For many, the shuttles have become symbols of a tech takeover in the Mission, one associated with high rents and high eviction rates. Some 69 percent of no-fault evictions occur within a four-block radius of the shuttle stops, according to an Anti-Eviction Mapping Project study, and eviction rates have been highest in the Mission.

Ultimately, the shuttle stop-sharing program is an attempt to resolve community tensions and incorporate the tech employee shuttles into the broader city system, according to Paine.

Holland said that this will make it easier to accommodate the shuttles, ensuring that there is enough room for shuttles and Muni buses without blocking crosswalks or bike lanes. The proposed pilot program will also take away—permanently or for certain hours of the day—33 parking spots in various neighborhoods across the city. However, no parking spots will be taken away in the Mission.

While many have been critical of the shuttles, some laud the effort to decrease traffic congestion and reduce car dependency on city streets. The shuttles eliminate at least 761,000 metric tons of carbon every year from Bay Area roads and air, according to an SFMTA press release.

“I don’t know how I feel about the issue,” said Stephanie Moquin, who waited at a bus stop on 16th Street, which will soon be shared with a tech shuttle. “But I think it’s good that they’re taking more cars off the road.”

“Traffic congestion is a citywide problem and these buses are an important tool to reduce it,” said Adrian Covert, a policy manager at the Bay Area Council and Mission resident, who spoke at a June 20th public hearing on the proposed shuttle stops.

On SFMTA’s interactive web tool in which users were able to contribute their feedback on the proposed stops, one resident wrote, “I use a wheelchair, and can never get through on the sidewalk [on Valencia and 24th Street] because shuttle riders block the space. I’m forced to push myself a block further away just to get past this block. If the shuttles were gone from this corner, I’d be able to use the public sidewalk again.”

See SFMTA’s map of new shuttle stops around the city below:

Proposed Shuttle Network 140611, courtesy SFMTA

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26 Comments

  1. Missionite

    Fantastic news! Employer-funded shuttles are a great way for long-time San Franciscans like myself to get access to jobs on the peninsula and stay in the city I love so much.

    • Sam

      Yes, it’s good that a satisfactory arrangement has been finalized. I guess the misguided protesters will now have to find something else to whine about.

    • Backtotheburbs

      There are no jobs in the city? Virtual full employment is not enough? 30,000 new residents in the last year?

      And why should the city support your peninsula habit? So you can ‘afford’ to live here, aka afford gouging market rate with all its wonderful effects on the non tech? Or are you one of those affluent rent control types?

      • Missionite

        My job in the city was eliminated I owned a condo in the city that I didn’t want to give up, and yes virtually full employment does mean no jobs in the city which meant my job search had to extend beyond the city proper. I’d love to be able to take BART or Muni but neither is a viable option for where I work now.
        Most of my friends who now take shuttles previously worked and lived in the city and took better jobs on the Peninsula when it got easier to commute. Unfortunately shuttles creating opportunities for San Franciscans doesn’t fit into the “us vs them” narrative that Sara Shortt is peddling to simple people who prefer jingoism over discourse.

        • Orddu

          That’s fine. I get having to travel for work. I still wouldn’t want to be that far away, but whatever. I do, however, want the shuttles to pay more.

        • backtotheburbs

          Low unemployment actually means that there are many unfilled positions … For example, glassdoor has 54,000 active job adds for SF alone:
          http://www.glassdoor.com/Job/jobs.htm?suggestCount=0&suggestChosen=false&clickSource=searchBtn&typedKeyword=&sc.keyword=&locT=C&locId=1147401

          You can work and commute wherever you like, but the city and its populace should not have to support these habits. And Peninsula employers should actively participate in planning and funding bay area public transport.

          • Sam

            If your idea is that cities should subsidize other cities that house their workers then SF would pay out a lot more than it would receive.

            Five commuters travel into SF to work every day for every one that travels out of the city to work.

            Be careful for what you wish for. The burbs are subsidizing SF by housing the city’s workers because we fail to.

          • Missionite

            Given that Muni only collects 30 cents for every dollar it spends, and that the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and Transbay Tunnel were all constructed and are maintained at enormous taxpayer expense, we decided a long time ago as a society that it was important to make sacrifices to allow people to live where they want to live. The shuttles are a distraction from the real issue.

            Let me ask you this, backtotheburbs, if the city were to create dedicated shuttle waiting zones that had zero overlap with Muni stops, would you then be satisfied?

        • farsi_speaker

          OK “most of my friends”…so how many friends are you speaking of?

          Now try honesty and give us a % of coworkers sitting next to you on your shuttle that fit into the “I lost my job in SF” scenari. Once oyu do that they you can be included in the US vs them argument.

    • My Take

      UCSF and other such service agencies run REAL shuttles, which are long vans.

      It’s an obscenity to call these the tech BUSES the size of Greyhounds, “shuttles” regardless of the extent to which that term has become the norm for describing these behemoths. I suggest to Mission Local (e.g. Leslie Nguyen-Okwu) that they stop accepting and applying that euphemism to them just because it’s fed to them by the media and corporations.

      I have many times met tourists who have walked all over San Francisco as I have done myself in their cities. As I have pointed out here before, tourism is going to be negatively impacted by these modern, unsightly whales coursing through our pristine Victorian neighborhoods because it’s CERTAINLY NOT what tourists come here to see in the most walkable city in the country in all polls every year over the last two decades.

      Tech buses should be required to pick up their passengers downtown at 7th & Marker, period end of story.

      • Sam

        Your comment about tourists is ironic because the tourist buses I see all over the city are about the same size and weight as the tech shuttles.

        For that matter I see many trucks in the city that have similar dimensions and which are probably heavier.

        If you think that the city should reduce the size and weight of vehicles that can enter the city, then argue for that change. But you should not single out just one type of large vehicle and ignore the others.

        The idea of all shuttles leaving from downtown was considered and rejected. The whole point of a shuttle is that they pick you up near your home. If you’re downtown, there are other options anyway, like CalTrain and SamTrans.

  2. Orddu

    The shuttles need to be charged significantly more than a dollar, which is a ridiculous sum.
    Also: taking a shuttle to a stop many miles away is still no replacement for being able to bike (or walk) to work.

    • Missionite

      Sure. The fees are a red herring in the whole debate. Whether it’s $1 or $10 or $50 a stop the fees are still negligible next to the staggering cost of operating the shuttles themselves. Anyone who thinks that companies are being greedy by not paying more or that raising that fee will make the shuttles disappear really is not in possession of the facts.

    • ThatGuy

      Why don’t you research a bit before you comment? It would be *illegal* for the city to make money from these stops. They can only cover their costs.

      Also, its a trial… maybe it’ll go up, maybe it won’t.

      Go whine about something else.

      • backtotheburbs

        Well, maybe the city should take a disruptive role and disregard the nuances of legality as is the norm these days.

        BTW if we are talking about rules, its illegal to block MUNI bus stops — that’s as hefty of a ticket as it gets. Zero tickets issues though …

        • Sam

          Oh well, if it’s OK to “disregard he nuances of legality” and if bad behavior can be given the euphemism of being “disruptive” then I have all kinds of ideas which I suspect you would not like.

          I thought you loved the law and crave ever more of them? Or is only laws you dislike that should be “disrupted”?

  3. Andy

    Those buses are too big for streets that only have one lane in either direction. The stop at 24th and Valencia that requires a bus to turn right from Valencia onto 24th is unsafe and a huge inconvenience to everyone. The bus must come ONTO THE SIDEWALK in order to make the turn. I have seen people have to jump out of the way.

    These buses truly need to be relegated to four-lane streets only. If they are to use two-lane streets, they should be prohibited from turning onto other two-lane streets. It’s just common sense. They’re too big for some of the streets they operate on.

  4. mission resident

    All shuttle buses, regardless of industry, should be paying the fee for using public bus stops. Only $1 is ridiculous.
    The fact that only tech shuttles have to pay this fee is discriminatory. Let’s make the people we don’t like pay more because they are bad/evil people. The anti-shuttle folks would get more support if they were anti shuttle vs. anti tech-shuttle. When you discriminate against a group of people, you tend to lose the argument.

  5. Bob

    Yes, this is excellent. Please no more silly protests. Especially happy to see the extra stops on Chavez, close to my house.

  6. whatever

    “For many, the shuttles have become symbols of a tech takeover in the Mission, one associated with high rents and high eviction rates. Some 69 percent of no-fault evictions occur within a four-block radius of the shuttle stops, according to an Anti-Eviction Mapping Project study”

    According to that study’s own map, literally the entire Mission is within four blocks of a shuttle stop:
    http://www.antievictionmappingproject.net/techbusevictions.html

    • Sam

      Correlation is not causation. I’ve seen little evidence that those who Ellis evict ride a tech shuttle every day. Most are renters or folks who bought an owner-occupied home.

      Many who Ellis evict are in one of the FIRE business sectors, and they don’t ride shuttles.

      A red herring.

  7. ian w

    There are at least 4 tech shuttles that stop near my apartment on Castro not represented on this map. Makes me question sfmta data.

  8. godzuki

    What happened to the one comment, one reply policy?

    • Sam

      “No laws have any validity or binding force without the consent and approbation of the people” (Alexander Hamilton).

      Who do you wish to censor, and why do they scare you?

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