Luxury Commuter Buses Bring Out The Angry Activists

Posted on May 2, 2014 by - Also by this author

Hey, leave these chauffeured clients alone. They're just trying to get to work, keep the economy moving, and fund the government.
Hey, leave these chauffeured clients alone. They're just trying to get to work, keep the economy moving, and fund the government.

Only in San Francisco, as the saying goes, can you come up with twisted thinking like this: Luxury commuter motorcoaches that keep thousands of daily commuters out of private cars in one of the most congested metro areas in the world are hurting environmental quality!? Such are the desperate political tactics of activists who are suing to stop a pilot program that requires the bus operators to PAY fees to use public bus stops to pick up tech workers commuting from San Francisco to the Silicon Valley.

Here you have an example of chauffeured transportation and charter bus companies providing a valuable service and solving problems, but getting caught in the middle of a political spectacle. Activists have even attacked and delayed these buses. (Don't the street-level dramatists have somewhere to go on weekday mornings?)

Since LCT is pro-private ground transportation, let's clarify the facts for all involved: The commuter buses, also known as "Google buses," take well-paid tech workers to their jobs every day, instead of forcing them into their personal vehicles. The workers and the companies that employ them make lots of money, and pay the highest tax rates that fund a vast array of government and social services in a state that faces chronic fiscal and economic problems. 

But the activists don't like big buses sharing public bus stops, and they decry rising rents in the area driven up by the tech workers. This malice is misplaced for two reasons: 1) The lack of affordable housing stems from years of restrictive state and local development and environmental rules that have prevented the Bay Area from increasing its affordable housing stock, with vasts areas of land off limits; 2) A 55-57-passenger motorcoaches keeps about 55-57 vehicles off the road, presuming everyone commutes alone. That's good for traffic and air quality. In fact, in the case of Bauer's Intelligent Transportation, the buses are green.

This irrational protest spasm really is not about affordable housing and environmental quality. It's a primal act of resentment and class envy driven by feelings of insecurity and inferiority that come with being surrounded by more successful people. If it weren't for the tech workers and the narrow silicon slices of California, the state would not be enjoying even a tepid economic recovery. With high unemployment, stagnant wages, self-inflicted high energy costs and water shortages, a shrinking middle class, a Hollywood filming drain and a corporate headquarters exodus, those tech workers are almost single-handedly maintaining any illusion of Golden State prosperity.

If anything, the tech bus passengers and their employers should take a page from the activist mentality, and throw their tough tactics right back at them: The companies should give the commuting tech workers a paid weekday off to simply get in their cars and drive all around their neighborhoods -- all day, at once. Now that would provide a valuable teachable moment.

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