San Francisco’s Out-of-Control Shuttle Buses

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Howard 2015-10-10 at 8.28.16 PM

The Problem:

(This article revises a previous article dated October 10, 2015)

Whether commuters get back and forth to work in public transit buses or privately-operated shuttle buses, it beats solo driving.  For this reason SaveMuni is not against shuttle buses per se.  However, in San Francisco there’s a problem.  In this city the streets are often narrow and steep and therefore not conducive to overly large commuter buses.   Moreover Muni provides frequent service during peak commute periods and for that reason is easily impeded and interfered with when shuttle buses are permitted to use its routes and bus stops.    Because of these factors, City Hall’s careless decision to allow hundreds of overly-large hi-tech and other privately-owned and institutionally-owned shuttle buses to pick up and drop passengers on the crowded streets of San Francisco is causing serious problems, including:

             a.) Continued blocking of traffic

             b.) Continued conflicts involving shuttle buses on neighborhood streets

             c.)  Continued violations of existing vehicle codes, traffic laws and posted weight limits

             d.)  Continued failure to display required SFMTA operating tags

              e.)  In some cases, continued failure to display valid California license plates,

              f.)  Continued interference with regular Muni service, especially at heavily-used Muni stops.

EIR Needed:

Had an EIR been prepared as required by State Law, many of the currently difficulties resulting from shuttle-bus operations could have been mitigated or avoided entirely.  As it is, the SFMTA….City government’s assigned shuttle bus overseer….is constantly confronted with problems it is ill-prepared to address, much less resolve.

In an effort to force City Hall into doing its due diligence before making its “pilot program” permanent, a large coalition of organizations and individuals has filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco.  The plaintiffs assert that the shuttle-bus operation as currently “managed” by the SFMTA, violate State traffic and environmental laws,  The lawsuit went to trial on November 14, 2015; a ruling from the San Francisco Superior Court is expected soon.

If Something is not Done:

Unless San Francisco’s politicians begin to take their shuttle bus responsibilities seriously, here is what is in store for San Francisco:

          a.) According to the SFMTA, there are now 203 shuttles operating in San Francisco traveling along 118 different routes.  As additional companies decide to give their employees direct home-to-job service. this number will grow.

          b.) Between June 2014 and July 2015, the number of conflicts in San Francisco involving shuttle buses increased by 46 percent, from 2,032 to 2,978.   Given the current lack of  supervision of shuttle buses and the increasing number of shuttle buses, the conflicts will no doubt also increase.

           c.)  The SFMTA will continue to attempt to manage the situation without adequate information about shuttle-caused delays, safety issues and other conflicts.

Howard 2015-10-10 at 8.28.39 PM

          d.)  According to the SF Department of Public Works, shuttle buses cause significantly more damage to city streets than other vehicles, thereby significantly raising street repair costs.   The full cost of increasing street repair costs caused by shuttle buses will continue to be born by the tax payers of San Francisco.

          e.)  The blocked traffic, delayed Muni vehicles, safety and other traffic violations, and other conflicts that occur constantly between shuttle buses and other vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and street traffic will get worse.

          f.)   Lastly, if the scoff-law attitude of some operators and some drivers is left unchecked expect more violations of the regulations under which the buses are supposed to operate, including the absence of bus identification tags, use of unauthorized Muni bus stops, unauthorized use of restricted streets, and assorted violations of the California Vehicle Code and San Francisco’s traffic laws.

Howard 2015-10-10 at 8.29.31 PM

The photos shows impact of the private shuttle buses on San Francisco neighborhoods.  Buses run from before 6:30 am to 10:30 am and again from 4:30 pm to after 10:30 pm.  There are 20+ buses per hour on some routes.

SaveMuni’s Position:

a.)  It is the obligation of San Francisco’s government to vigorously protect both the neighborhoods and Muni riders from the misuse and/or violations of the independently-owned shuttle bus operators.

b.)  Heavily-used Muni stops are inappropriate places for hi-tech buses to stop, especially during peak commute hours.

c.)   In accordance CEQA, a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of hi-tech shuttle operation should be fully described and set forth in an duly vetted, authorized and approved EIR before anyone’s shuttle bus operation is approved in San Francisco. 

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