Operations

Bay Area Shuttles Clog Streets

LCT Staff
Posted on November 28, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — Shuttles taking Bay Area workers to and from work in Silicon Valley have been breaking the law by making unlicensed curbside pickups, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA.)

MTA police and parking-control officers said they have been handing out citations recently because the shuttles linger too long, blocking loading zones, taxi stalls, and bus stops throughout San Francisco.

Deputy Chief Antonio Parra said he has attempted several meetings with Google, eBay, PayPal, and Yahoo, but they have yet to work out a solution. Instead, parking-control officers continue to tag the shuttles and the chauffeurs continue to idle.

“We’re trying to coordinate, rather than sit there ticketing,” Parra told MTA board of directors in early November.

The shuttle buses have caused a few problems since they started operating in San Francisco in 2006. Neighborhood residents complain of noise and traffic in relatively quiet enclaves such as Noe Valley, where many tech employees live.

But for San Francisco’s paratransit community, the presence of shuttles is more than just an inconvenience; it often makes boarding city-approved shuttles a chore.

Bob Planthold, a local paratransit activist, said it’s difficult for wheelchair users or the blind to navigate around the massive buses when there is a backup at the pickup site. He said the worst areas include Eighth and Market streets, Gough and Sacramento streets, Union and Fillmore streets, 24th and Church streets, and 24th and Dolores streets.

San Francisco never actually granted permission for the shuttles to make curbside stops, but many of the corporations contract transportation tasks with companies such as Bauer’s limousine service. These drivers have a license that makes their stops legal.

But several of the shuttles are full-size buses capable of transporting dozens of employees. Google spokeswoman Sunny Gettinger said she hasn’t heard any complaints from MTA. Google already changed one of its routes because of noise complaints in Noe Valley.

“We do make every attempt to work with the community to address the issues,” she said. “We are taking over 1,200 cars off the road every day in the Bay Area. We’re trying to make it easier for people to live in San Francisco and still work for Google.”

SOURCE: The Examiner

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