Techie Take-over Rankles MUNI Riders

By Glenn Rogers, PLA : westsideobserver – excerpt

Some say Google buses provide a “greener” solution than each tech worker riding a solo car to their destination. However, this analysis does not account for buses waiting long periods of time to be allowed to enter a MUNI bus stop, or the fact that the diesel engines used by the shuttle buses pollute more than regular cars.”

The Court Decision: After numerous delays by the defendant supporting the use of public bus stops being used by private carriers, on April 28, 2016, the San Francisco City Attorney, with the support of the law firm, Morrison and Foerster representing the real party in interest, Genentech, prevailed in the Google shuttle bus pilot case. Judge Garrett Wong ruled that the temporary bus program lawsuit was moot since the pilot program had ended and been replaced by a “permanent” program. Originally, the case against the pilot bus program in the City began in May 1, 2014. Plaintiffs were SEIU 1021 and a handful of local citizens. Representing SEIU 1021 were Richard Drury and Rebecca Davis of the law firm Lozeau Drury LLP…

After many delaying motions on the part of the defendants, the trial was finally held on November 13, 2015. The pilot program was scheduled to end on January 31, 2016. Judges are supposed to rule on cases within 90 days of the trial. But Judge Wong did not issue a ruling until April 28, well past the 90-day deadline and after the adoption of a “permanent” program, of sorts, to replace the pilot program. At the time of publication it is not known if plaintiffs will appeal.

The Pilot and Permanent Program: The pilot program had green placards on the buses. Now, blue placards represent the permanent bus program. This “permanent” program must be reviewed in six months and only lasts for one year. The pilot and the permanent programs are otherwise nearly identical. The “permanent” program, however, restricts the number of stops that can be utilized by private carriers to 125 whereas language in the pilot program indicated an unlimited number of stops could eventually be incorporated into the program. However, neither the pilot nor the “permanent” program has any restrictions on the number of shuttles that can receive the blue placards. For administration fees, private shuttles have been charged $3.67 per stop. That charge will go up to over $7 per stop to pay for additional enforcement of the program…

The Tech Bus Problem: According to California Vehicle Code 22500, it is illegal for private carriers to use public bus stops. Despite this, the City of San Francisco has decided to experiment with a private bus system “sharing” public bus stops in order to reduce congestion on the highways and provide a “greener” solution for commuters. Today, approximately 8,500 people take a round trip bus to their destination to either Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Youtube, Genentech, Google and other peninsula and South Bay companies…

Gentrification: The tech buses may be at the root of another problem with our City, gentrification. Young, rich, tech workers, seeking to live in neighborhoods close to private bus stops, may be linked to the eviction and displacement of long-time residents, as property owners seek to charge more in rent to those better able to pay…

keep that 8500 figure in mind as it is interesting to note that figure comes very close to the number of homeless people on the streets and the number of residents who have been displaced from their homes.

The Solution: Until July 4, 2016, the SFMTA is conducting a survey that is exploring a Shuttle Hub Program. One possible location for commuter pick-up would be the Cow Palace.3 It would be logical that smaller buses would be used to gather tech workers and deposit them at this location, where larger buses would take them to work…

Assemblyperson Travis Allen, a Republican from Orange County, sponsored Assembly Bill 61 (AB 61) which would have amended the State Vehicle Code to allow private carriers to operate in public bus stops. This bill died on January 11, 2016, but Allen introduced two more bills with the same language that have not yet been heard in committee: AB 1641 and ABX1-25(more)

Relevant 2016 state bills are tracked here:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/california-bills-2016/

 

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