An invasion of loud, unwieldy private buses on small streets has angered residents in the Marina district, and a recent decision by city officials has the community nervous that the problem could get worse.
Despite weight limits on several residential streets, private double-decker tour buses and shuttle buses — which carry workers down to big job centers on the Peninsula — are a common sight in the Marina and Cow Hollow neighborhoods, according to Max Delle Sedie, a member of Cow Hollow Neighbors in Action. The vehicles clog up small arteries, idle loudly outside homes in the morning, blare annoying messages over loudspeakers and generally disregard all local ordinances, Delle Sedie said.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Delle Sedie, who added that tour buses frequently stop on small streets to drop off their passengers. “These buses do damn well what they please because they know no one will enforce the rules.”
Delle Sedie and other local residents fear that the issue will be exacerbated by Tuesday’s ruling from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to exempt charter buses from weight restrictions on portions of Chestnut and Lyon streets.
The SFMTA has said the exemption will only apply to private buses carrying school children, and it is intended to allow the vehicles access to a parking lot near the Exploratorium.
The science center’s current parking lot is set to be shuttered on Jan. 18 due to construction on Doyle Drive, and the exemptions will allow buses to maneuver easily to an adjacent lot in the Presidio, Exploratorium spokeswoman Leslie Patterson said. Yellow school buses, which make up about three-quarters of all student trips to the Exploratorium, already are exempt from the restrictions, she noted.
Marina residents say they have no qualms with allowing easier access to the Exploratorium, but they are nervous that other, unsanctioned vehicles will take advantage of the new exemptions, said Patricia Vaughey, president of Marina-Cow Hollow Neighbors and Merchants. Employee shuttle buses could take advantage of the restrictions to travel further into the neighborhood, she said.
“How are they going to enforce these exemptions when all of the buses look alike?” asked Vaughey.
Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA, said the agency is aware of the community’s concerns and is coordinating efforts with the police department to ensure that large vehicles stay off restricted streets.
The Marina isn’t the only neighborhood in San Francisco where residents are complaining about the lack of oversight of private buses.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, a local planning body, is in the midst of conducting a study to determine how the employee shuttle buses can be better regulated. That report is expected to be released next month. The SFMTA is conducting a similar report on the use of tour buses.
Companies among the providers of tours through The City:
- Bay Area Buses
- City Sightseeing
- Coach USA
- MTR Western
- San Francisco Shuttle Tours
- Tower Tours
Tour stops near the Marina district:
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Lombard Street
Source: Various tour bus websites