The so-called Google buses have been protested widely in the Mission District and throughout San Francisco, despite some new evidence that tech workers simply turn to cars when their shuttle routes are interrupted.
The city has recently been considering changes to the program that would involve creating hubs rather than multiple stops. At present, the buses pick up passengers throughout San Francisco and transport them to their workplaces in the South Bay including Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo.
Many of the private shuttle stops are in the Mission District, and we asked our candidates to weigh in on the system.
What do you think about the commuter shuttle program? What would the system look like in the next few years — expanded or cut back — and how?
Respuestas en español aquí.
Joshua Arce, civil rights attorney and Community Liaison for Laborers Local 261
San Franciscans have been commuting by car to Silicon Valley for decades, Caltrain is already at max capacity, and the shuttle program reflects years of effort by policy makers, transit agencies, and employers to provide efficient alternatives that significantly reduce congestion and carbon emissions.
The results of the recent SFMTA survey indicate that a hub system would encourage many workers who commute down the peninsula to stop taking the bus and begin driving to work. This would have big environmental consequences and would be counter-productive, suggesting to me that the proposed hub system would defeat the purpose of the shuttle program.
Instead, I propose we continue to work with neighbors and riders to adjust existing shuttle routes as necessary, enforce shuttle labor standards, and consider revenue-generating options that support MUNI as we make the shuttle program permanent in its current form.
Iswari España, Training Officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency
These shuttles do not contribute anything but traffic, the loss of parking spaces and inconvenience Muni and bike riders in our neighborhoods. Once these programs/services start providing tangible benefits back to the neighborhoods; show their contributions with transparency, we can contemplate a hub in our neighborhoods.
For now, I think the program should be cut back until SFMTA works fairly for all us. The SFMTA has only given us hikes on parking meters and fines, and no bike parking.
I do not mind embracing change when it is fair for everyone. It seems like they are only trying to accommodate big corporations and a select group of neighbors.
Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos
The corporate shuttle program arose largely because Caltrain cannot accommodate the 35,000 workers that travel on shuttle buses between San Francisco and San Mateo and Santa Clara counties each day and because the South Bay refuses to allow development of housing to accommodate its workforce. These are huge problems that must be fixed to eliminate the need for this private transportation system.
Until then, there are two facts about shuttles that any policy maker can’t ignore. One, they reduce congestion and pollution by daily removing thousands of cars off our city streets. And two, the cost of homes and rates of eviction are significantly higher in areas close to corporate shuttle stops.
I believe we need to acknowledged corporate shuttles for their environmental positives, while at the same time creating regulation to offset traffic snarls, bus blockage, and the effects of displacement near shuttle stops.
In the short term, I support shuttle permitting, reasonable caps on shuttles, as well as common sense fees for using city infrastructure that go to the building of affordable housing and transit equity.
Melissa San Miguel submitted a response that did not address the question, but instead spoke to the recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.
43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to email@example.com and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.
How about a bike path to the Caltrans depot. Then maybe we could solve the Caltrans problem. Those tracks are there, why can’t shuttle trains service the peninsula? Just saying they can’t do it is lame. These buses are not a sustainable solution to this problem for San Francisco. They weigh 50,000 pounds. Empty. They are destroying the ash fault streets faster than they can be repaired. Physics in action people!
From Iswari España’s response: “These shuttles do not contribute anything but traffic, the loss of parking spaces and inconvenience Muni and bike riders in our neighborhoods.”
How? I don’t understand how the busses have anything to do with Muni and bike riders. Could someone explain how they cause a loss of parking spaces. I don’t understand.
“Melissa San Miguel submitted a response that did not address the question, but instead spoke to the recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and St. Paul.”
Thank you so much for this! It’s so frustrating when politicians deliberatly avoid answering the question in front of them. I wish all media outlets would do what you just did and just refuse to print when a politician doesn’t answer the question. If all media outlets started doing this, we might get the pols to stop dodging questions. Brilliant!!!