Shuttles cause parking-control headache

A daily shuttle to and from the job is one of the many perks enjoyed by the work force of Silicon Valley, but as drivers wait for laptop-wielding passengers to board, they often break the law.

Municipal Transportation Agency police and parking-control officers said they have been handing out citations recently because the shuttles linger too long, blocking loading zones, taxi stalls and bus stops throughout The City.

Deputy Chief Antonio Parra said he has attempted several meetings with Google, eBay, PayPal and Yahoo, but they have yet to work out a solution. Instead, parking-control officers continue to tag the shuttles and the chauffeurs continue to idle.

“We’re trying to coordinate, rather than sit there ticketing,” Parra told the Muni board of directors in early November.

The shuttle buses have caused a few problems since they started coming into The City in 2006. Neighborhood residents complain of noise and traffic in relatively quiet enclaves such as Noe Valley, where many tech employees live.

But for The City’s paratransit community, the presence of shuttles is more than just an inconvenience; it often makes boarding city-approved shuttles a chore.

Bob Planthold, a local paratransit activist, said disabled commuters have to navigate around the massive buses. He said it’s difficult for wheelchair users or the blind to venture out into the street when there is a backup at the pickup site.

He said the worst areas include Eighth and Market streets, Gough and Sacramento streets, Union and Fillmore streets, 24th and Church streets and 24th and Dolores streets.

The City never granted permission for the shuttles to stop in San Francisco, but many of the companies contract transportation tasks with companies such as Bauer’s limousine service. Drivers have a license that allows them to make the stops.

Several of the shuttles are full-size buses capable of transporting dozens of employees. Google spokeswoman Sunny Gettinger said she hasn’t heard any complaints from Muni. Google already changed one of its routes because of noise complaints in Noe Valley.

“We do make every attempt to work with the community to address the issues,” she said. “We are taking over 1,200 cars off the road every day in the Bay Area. We’re trying to make it easier for people to live in The City and still work for Google.”

bbegin@examiner.com

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