Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photoBuses that shuttle workers to and from San Mateo County employers make several stops in The City.

Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photoBuses that shuttle workers to and from San Mateo County employers make several stops in The City.

Peninsula welcomes tech firms’ shuttles

Even amid concerns from San Francisco residents and officials about the impact of private employer shuttles, San Mateo County has taken an altogether different approach — welcoming them with open arms.

County officials and regional traffic planners agree that the buses have an important role in the region’s transportation strategy: reducing traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions.

“It takes a burden off our local roadways; it also creates predictability for local traffic management,” said Ray Mueller, former chairman of the Menlo Park Transportation Commission. While Mueller would prefer to keep commuters in Menlo Park for the dinner hour, he appreciates that there are people working in the community, contributing to the economy.

But quantifying the shuttles’ role is hard. There isn’t much publicly available data about the shuttles, which are operated by a handful of large employers, typically in technology and health care. Genentech transports about 1,700 people daily via its private bus networks, spokeswoman Lisa Slater said. Its buses stop at the Millbrae BART station as well as the Park and Ride at the junction of highways 101 and 92, Slater said. Electronic Arts runs two routes daily from San Francisco, neither of which stops en route to its Redwood City offices, said Sandy Goldberg, EA spokeswoman.

Google and Facebook declined to comment on their programs, but Google’s shuttles also stop at the Millbrae BART station and near the Park and Ride, plus everywhere from Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Livermore. Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters is served by stops in Mountain View, Cupertino and Campbell.

Although San Francisco has for years contemplated some form of regulations governing the shuttles, no such plans seem to be afoot in San Mateo County. Online maps suggest that Google’s shuttles use SamTrans bus stops, a practice that has been contentious in San Francisco. But transit officials are unaware of any such usage, system spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Nor do the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s long-term goals include specific, direct plans for private buses, said John Goodwin of the MTC. That’s because private buses don’t request state and federal funding, Goodwin said.

But the MTC does take private buses into account, at least to some extent.

“We’re aware of the phenomenon,” Goodwin said. “It’s baked into the cake as part of the 25-year planning horizon. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and my guess is that in the next 25 years it’s entirely possible we’ll see more companies adopting shuttle buses.”

But, at least for the moment, county officials are pleased that the private buses are getting cars off the road.

With more than 300,000 people commuting in and out of San Mateo County every day, transporting workers is an ongoing challenge, said John Ford of Commute.org. Private buses, when operating at near full capacity, help free up crowded roadways, Ford said.

Bay Area NewsFacebookGoogleLocalPeninsula

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

A Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with homeless people along Jones Street in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed proposes another street outreach team to divert calls away from police

San Francisco would launch a new street outreach team to respond to… Continue reading

Rendering of proposed ball park at Howard Terminal (Courtesy photo)
MLB instructs A’s to begin exploring other markets while still pursuing downtown ballpark

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it has instructed the Oakland Athletics… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants short stop Mauricio Dubon (1) breaks his bat on a ground out in the 4th inning against the Miami Marlins at Oracle Park on April 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Wood, bench power Giants past Rangers

After a bullpen implosion cost Alex Wood a win in his prior… Continue reading

San Fernando, CA, Thursday, April 29, 2021 - California Governor Gavin Newsom waves goodbye to friends after attending a press conference where he signed legislation that will provide a $6.2 billion tax cut to the hardest hit small businesses in the state at Hanzo Sushi restaurant downtown. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Most Read