Commuter buses are usually pretty noncontroversial. Governments like them because they get single-passenger cars off the road and reduce air pollution. And riders like them because they can relax on the way to and from work and save on gas and other expenses. Cleaner, greener and more convenient — everyone's happy, right?
Not in San Francisco, where there's been a growing fight over the shuttle buses provided by Google, Facebook and other tech companies to ferry workers from their San Francisco homes to their Silicon Valley jobs. Critics say the shuttles stop at city bus stops, delaying public transit and causing bicyclists to swerve out of bike lanes. Activists have protested by blocking buses. In one case, they slashed the tires of a Google bus and hurled a rock through a window.
All this fury over some buses? Not really. The fight against the shuttles is really a proxy fight against rising rents and gentrification, as wealthy tech industry types move into some neighborhoods at the expense of current residents.
On Tuesday, San Francisco transportation officials adopted a compromise designed to address specific concerns with the shuttles. During an 18-month pilot program, the agency will designate public bus stops that can be shared by the shuttles. Tech companies will apply for permits for their buses and pay $1 each time one of the buses makes a stop, which will cover the cost of the permitting and enforcement.