Rules proposed for commuter shuttle buses in San Francisco

S.F. Examiner File PhotoRoadblock: Employee shuttles have stirred complaints of blocked Muni bus stops and traffic congestion.

San Francisco’s shuttle buses for commuting tech company employees are getting on the nerves of some residents and the city officials who have to deal with complaints.

While the tension is nothing new, City Hall appears closer to proposing a solution to an increasingly common situation that can create traffic problems and delay Muni.

On Tuesday, Supervisor John Avalos asked the City Attorney’s Office to draft legislation for a proposed permit system for shuttle operators. Under his proposed system, shuttle operators would have to pay a fee to use Muni bus stops or other areas to pick up and drop off the commuters.

Details are still being worked out, but The City also could possibly use the permits to determine where the shuttles could lawfully load and unload passengers.

About 27 shuttle operators operate in San Francisco, providing a total of about 36,000 one-way passenger trips per day, according to data from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Shuttles load and unload passengers in more than 200 locations, mostly Muni stops, according to the authority.

Employee shuttles are popular among San Francisco-dwelling workers of companies such as Google, Genentech and Apple. The City also is served by in-city shuttles serving local employers such as the Academy of Art University and UC San Francisco.

Despite the occasional tension on the streets, city officials agree that such shuttle buses are an important aspect of The City’s transportation system that help to keep such workers out of their cars, which would only exacerbate traffic and harm the environment.

“They are great for a lot of different reasons, but they are also jamming up traffic, idling in front of people’s homes,” Supervisor Mark Farrell said Tuesday during an SFCTA meeting. He added that the conflict can be “really awful and it increases road rage.”

The authority said it plans to develop policies regulating the shuttles in the fall and winter, with implementation planned for some time in 2013.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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