Jessica Christian/Special to the S.f. ExaminerLime-colored decals have been placed on certain Muni bus stop shelters to signal to shuttle operators that permitted users only are allowed as part of an 18-month pilot program.

Jessica Christian/Special to the S.f. ExaminerLime-colored decals have been placed on certain Muni bus stop shelters to signal to shuttle operators that permitted users only are allowed as part of an 18-month pilot program.

Pilot charging commuter buses to use Muni stops hits the streets

Lime-colored decals stating “Commuter Shuttle Pilot” and “Permitted Users Only” have been plastered to Muni bus shelters and tacked on to bus poles in San Francisco over the past week.

They signify green lights for permitted shuttle providers to use a network of bus stops in an 18-month pilot program launching today, but represent red flags for groups that have more blockades planned in protest of tech buses they see as a symbol of displacement in The City.

The journey to lay ground rules for the shuttles has been six years long. But the commuter shuttle program, which allows 11 permitted shuttle providers for Silicon Valley tech and intracity companies, to use 99 Muni stops for a fee, stands as a better solution than the Wild West environment that overran the city streets for years, said Program Manager Carli Paine, of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

“We know that there are likely to be some growing pains at first. Day one is not going to be as great as day 30,” she said. “And so we know it's going to take a little time to get everything working super smoothly.”

Transit agency board members on Jan. 21 approved the pilot, a $3.5 million project, on a $1 per stop per day fee structure, which was increased to $3.55 per stop for fiscal year 2014-15 and later to $3.67.

Getting the moving parts in place took a month longer than scheduled. The preparation for the pilot involved training all parking control officers and street inspectors on identifying violators, as well as 10 officers assigned specifically to commuter shuttle enforcement during the morning and evening peak hours.

The pilot is the first of its kind in the U.S., as no other city has a commuter shuttle program the scale of San Francisco's, Paine said.

Efforts to regulate commuter shuttles began in 2008 with a San Francisco County Transportation Authority board member's request for a study on their impacts, finalized in 2011. The SFMTA took on the controversial issue in 2012, gathering information and a policy framework and last July outlined the specifics of the pilot.

Still, implementing fees and enforcement measures aren't sufficient to mitigate the shuttles' impacts, said Erin McElroy, an organizer with Eviction-Free San Francisco, which has taken part in staging five tech shuttle protests since December.

“I think that people imagine that perhaps we're satisfied with the measures taken and that we won't continue to block them, so perhaps they will find it impactful when we do continue to blockade them,” she said of future protests. “I think when we first began blockading buses, it was most dramatic because it hadn't been really done before.”

On top of blockades, an environmental lawsuit by the Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Mission residents Sara Shortt and Alysabeth Alexander could make its way to court as early as a couple months.

“We did talk and were not able to settle,” said attorney Richard Drury of an early settlement meeting between the plaintiffs and The City last month.

Shuttle providers would not comment on the pilot launch.

Google said in an emailed statement: “We are excited to participate in the launch of the shuttle pilot program and look forward to continue working with the SFMTA and the City of San Francisco to refine the program.”

Agenda for SFMTA hearing on commuter shuttle stops:

DV.load(“//”, { width: 640, height: 840, sidebar: false, text: false, container: “#DV-viewer-1238962-sfmta-hearing” }); SFMTA Hearing (PDF)
SFMTA Hearing (Text) Bay Area NewsCommuter ShuttlesGoogle busSan Francisco Municipal Transportation AgencyTransittransportation

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

Just Posted

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

San Francisco supervisors could be poised to approve legislation that would allocate… Continue reading

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) and running back Raheem Mostert (31) celebrate after Mostert scores his fourth rushing touchdown in the third quarter as the 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
49ers on prime-time TV five times in 2021

Usually a team that finishes in last place and won only six… Continue reading

Many famillies have supported keeping John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park free of car traffic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over future of JFK Drive heats up

Shamann Walton compares accessibilty issues to segregation, likens street closure to ‘1950s South’

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, pictured in March, is unveiling a series of budget proposals this week. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom’s school plan has billions for college savings accounts, after school programs and more

Hannah Wiley The Sacramento Bee California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to send… Continue reading

Most Read