San Francisco

'Tech Bus' Riders, Hold on – Your Commute Is Potentially Headed For Major Changes

The SFMTA Board is now considering whether to dramatically reduce the number of allowable pick-up and drop-off stops for private shuttles and buses that transport about 8,500 San Francisco residents to their workplaces outside the city each weekday.

Roughly 8,500 people in San Francisco catch a ride to work on one of those so-called “tech buses” – private commuter shuttles that transport employees to work daily. If you’re among them, get ready – your commute could soon be headed for some major changes.

On Tuesday, the SFMTA presented a new study to the agency's board members, which examined the possibility of dramatically reducing the number of allowable bus stops for private shuttles and buses.

Currently, tech buses can pick-up and drop-off riders from 125 designated stops throughout San Francisco. The study focused on four alternative strategies that would significantly reduce the number of stops to between one and 30, depending on the specific plan.

This private bus stop in San Francisco, along Van Ness Avenue, is one of 125 locations that permitted buses can use for a fee throughout the city to pick-up and drop-off employees.

Such a move would likely reduce the frequency of private commuter shuttles interfering with MUNI buses, according to the study, since 100 of the designated stops for private vehicles also double as public bus stops.

NBC Bay Area
The biotechnology firm, Genentech, boasts that each of its private buses helps reduce traffic congestion by taking 120 cars off the road each day.

The study, however, also found that eliminating such a large number of stops could push 24 to 45 percent of riders to drive to work instead – increasing traffic and the risk of collisions for everyone.

An employee perk at some of the world’s most well-known tech companies is being blamed for slowing down San Francisco commuters, while also potentially putting them at risk of injury along the city’s roadways. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit obtained traffic records that reveal a growing problem that could put other commuters in danger. Bigad Shaban reports.

Earlier this year, the Investigative Unit exposed how private tech buses have committed hundreds of traffic violations in recent years. While private transportation companies operate the buses, they’re hired by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech firms like Facebook, Apple, and Google.

Use the interactive map below to locate the 125 private bus stops in San Francisco, as well as the locations for the more 800 citations issued to private commuter buses in 2014 and 2015. You can also click on each individual point on the map to learn more.

According to the newly released SFMTA study, a successful hub system should improve the “quality of life in San Francisco” and also reduce “the physical footprint of a commuter shuttle system.”

The SFTMA board will likely vote in March on whether to shrink the network of allowable stops for private buses.

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