Public regulation of private shuttles in San Francisco would result in less congestion, better enforcement of idling buses, and fewer traffic snarls with Muni vehicles.
Those findings come from a new report issued by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (TA), a public planning body that was tasked with addressing the proliferation of private shuttles in The City.
The private shuttle report came at the request of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes Noe Valley, a neighborhood particularly affected by the services.
About 85 to 100 large shuttle buses enter The City to take employees to large corporations in the Peninsula and Silicon Valley (that total does not cover workers who get shuttled to universities and hospitals), according to Tilly Chang, the TA’s deputy planning director.
While those shuttles have proven to be a beneficial alternative to mass automobile commutes, the TA’s report said that they would operate better if they were voluntarily brought under the management of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees all transit operations for San Francisco.
The MTA would act as one-stop shop to make sure that the shuttles don’t park in designated Muni zones, idle for longer than five minutes (which is illegal), or ignore weight-restrictions on smaller streets, according to the report.
The regional shuttle providers — entities like Google, Genentech, Yahoo, and Apple — would pay a fee (which has yet to be determined, but it could be on a sliding scale, depending on level of service) to the MTA to help coordinate routes, scheduling, and access to public transit lines. The fee would pay for one full-time city employee, who would be responsible for acting as a liaison between The City and the private shuttle services.
“This is about minimizing impact in San Francisco,” said Chang. “Everyone agrees that the shuttles are a great service, but with a little bit better communication with the MTA, it could work better for everyone.”