Fail: ‘Google Bus’ lacks mandatory permit on main photo of major tech shuttle report

The City released a hotly anticipated, deeply controversial (to transportation nerds, anyway) report on “tech shuttles” last week, but it may have included a major snafu.

The report, which lays outs the dangers and benefits of moving Silicon Valley commuter shuttles off of San Francisco streets and into hubs, follows The City touting its accomplishments in ticketing law-breaking shuttle drivers.

But as one eagle-eyed reader realized, the front page photo of the “Commuter Shuttle Hub Study” features a law-breaking bus.

“The cover picture Commuter Bus does not have a decal (Placard!)” wrote a surprised Edward Mason in an email. He’s a retiree who lives in Noe Valley.

The San Francisco Examiner highlighted Mason’s effort to personally photograph and note commuter shuttles idling in Muni bus stops, running down restricted streets and — like in the cover photo — operating without displaying their permits (which makes scofflaws harder to track).

The story was picked up by the Guardian UK and CNET, bringing Mason’s “get off my lawn!” San Francisco-shenanigans to the world.

In a blog post written by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Sustainable Streets Tom Maguire yesterday, he touted the agency’s ability to crack down on scofflaws.

“These results are largely thanks to the SFMTA’s dedicated shuttle enforcement unit,” Maguire wrote, “which issued 2,267 citations, worth $360,895, to permitted shuttles in the year from August 2014 to 2016. As part of the program, we established a GPS tracking system to make enforcement more efficient by allowing us to know when shuttles use restricted streets and issue penalties.

“Before we launched our original pilot shuttle program in August 2014, shuttles basically pulled over wherever they could, often conflicting with Muni service, blocking traffic and creating safety hazards. The situation often felt like the Wild West.”

Still, no matter how much enforcement has improved, SFMTA records show that few can match Mason. His complaints (28 percent of all total complaints) spurred much commuter shuttle legal enforcement.

Now, he’s zinging the SFMTA once again, which apparently isn’t as eagle-eyed as Mason when it comes to commuter shuttles — whether on the streets, or in the pages of its own literature.

The SFMTA Board of Directors will discuss the commuter shuttle hub study at its regular meeting, Tuesday afternoon.

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