San Francisco Tech Bus Program Scaled Back and Delayed

San Francisco's controversial plan to charge tech employee shuttle operators $1 daily to legally use city bus stops has hit a bureaucratic roadblock. The pilot program's launch date has been pushed back to August 1st "because all the necessary hearings would not fit in the board of directors' summer schedule."

The pilot will also have less stops than originally planned. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the program has been scaled back by nearly 45 percent:

Instead of the maximum 200 stops proposed, the pilot is moving forward with 111 shared stops already selected. That includes 100 Muni zones, 10 new white zones for shuttles and one extension of an existing white zone, designed for shuttle loading only, to separate Muni and shuttle activity at high-volume stops. An additional 10 to 15 stops will go before a similar SFMTA hearing July 11.

City planners insist that the proposed shuttle network wasn't dictated by either tech companies or pissed off protesters. Instead, the proposed stops were chosen with hopes to reduce the shuttles' impact on Muni and "residents":

"It was a lot of back and forth and looking at Muni schedules and a lot of constraints," [Carli Paine of the SFMTA] said. "There are many stops that [shuttle operators] requested that are not part of the network for a combination of reasons — residents, Muni needs, and street considerations and construction."

Protesters didn't seem to have much sway over the process. Activists in April attempted—and failed—to appeal the pilot's environmental impact report. The Silicon shuttle program is also moving forward despite a lawsuit claiming tech-fueled gentrification is bad for the environment. And shuttles will continue rolling through the Mission District at 24th and Valencia, the site of multiple theatric, clown-clad bus blockades.

SFMTA, the city's transit agency, remains optimistic that the program will curb illegal shuttles in the future:

Part of the cost-recovery $1 per stop, per day fee will go toward additional parking control officers who can issue $271 tickets to shuttles that do not have permits or those that fail to follow the rules of the pilot program.

Given tech company's have dodged those $271 tickets for years thanks to handshake agreements with cozy city officials, scofflaw shuttles probably don't have much to worry about.

[Photo: Ryan Blauvelt]