S.F. Supervisors' Deal Would Extend Tech Shuttle Bus Program

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A permit issued by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for the city's tech shuttle pilot program. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

A deal hammered out between three members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and tech shuttle operators will allow the giant buses that carry thousands of workers to and from Silicon Valley to keep using the city's Muni stops -- for now.

Supervisors London Breed, David Campos and Norman Yee reached the agreement late Monday to extend a Municipal Transportation Agency program that allows shuttles for Google, Apple, Facebook and other firms to use the Muni stops in return for a fee. Critics of the program, including affordable housing advocates, say the shuttles have accelerated the pace of gentrification in the city and have added to traffic congestion and air pollution.

Two weeks ago, the Board of Supervisors postponed action on the matter to give Breed, Campos and Yee time to resolve conflicts between the SFMTA, the shuttle operators and program critics.

"I'm happy to report that we've reached a tentative agreement that we hope to recommend to the rest of the board," Mission district Supervisor Campos said in an interview.

Instead of killing the program while a full environmental review takes place, the deal calls for it to continue in its current form for one year while city officials study its impact.

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Campos says the SFMTA and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority will take the next six months to look into whether the program could succeed without some of the nearly 125 Muni stops it uses now.

During that time, the two agencies will explore whether workers who use the shuttles could be picked up at hubs in certain neighborhoods instead of the stops currently in use.

They will also study whether air quality has gotten worse in neighborhoods with a high volume of commuter shuttles and whether the program is a factor in displacing residents in a city that's in the grips of an affordability crisis.

Campos says the six months of study could lead to an overhaul of the program.

"We as a city and the tech industry and these companies have to do a better job of working together on issues like housing," Campos said.

The full Board of Supervisors had been scheduled to vote on the shuttle program's future Tuesday. The issue will now be postponed until Feb. 23.