Employee Shuttles Finding Their Place in SF’s Complex Transit System

3090842843_59f9818875_o.jpgA Yahoo employee waits to board a corporate shuttle in the Civic Center. Flickr photo: commander_klaus

In New York, the standard icon of corporate prestige is a gleaming tower downtown bearing a company’s name. Here in the Bay Area, one of the preferred symbols is a sprawling, parking lot-ringed "corporate campus" off US-101 (Google, Yahoo) or I-280 (Apple,) 30 miles or more from the region’s densest city. Ironically, though these campuses were designed for convenience, many Silicon Valley employees prefer to reside in San Francisco. As a result, companies have discovered the recruiting value of something transportation planners have long touted: high-quality, car-free transportation.

This fall, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (TA) will release a Strategic Analysis Report outlining the impacts of these shuttles, which Supervisor Bevan Dufty has called "a whole other world of transportation" outside of Muni. Margaret Cortes, a senior transportation planner with the TA, said the companies have been very cooperative during the study, which she says will be ready in September.

In the past, news coverage of the shuttles has focused on their luxuriousness, their impact on real estate values, their contributions to gentrification, and their occasional noisiness. Less dissected has been their impact on livable streets issues and sustainability. Suburban corporate campuses may be inherently unsustainable, but are heavily-used shuttles at least mitigating the problem?

According to Google spokesperson Sunny Gettinger, Google’s shuttle service has allowed at least some employees to live car-free. "We definitely have people who’ve gone car-free, or people who never bought a car," said Gettinger. "I know folks who leave their cars down here, if they have cars, and live in the city car-free more or less, and people who’ve moved here from other places and not gotten cars because of the shuttle."

Though Google hasn’t conducted any surveys, Gettinger said anecdotally, "there’s a fair amount of people who would choose to live in the city anyway … and would then have to drive."

In total, Google shuttles over 1,600 people every day throughout the
Bay Area. They do not disclose how many of those riders are in San
Francisco specifically. Apple estimates that its various shuttle, transit subsidy and carpool programs have taken the equivalent of 4,500 cars off the road, according to its 2008 Environmental Update, part of its Facilities Report (off-site PDF.) Further statistics from other companies that
provide shuttles, such as Yahoo, Apple, and Genentech, will be
available as part of the study.

3678439687_680ca815a2.jpgThe Google Maps icon on the iPhone home screen is a subtle reminder that Apple’s headquarters are located just off I-280, over three miles from the nearest Caltrain station. Apple offers its employees direct shuttles from San Francisco. Flickr photo: bindermichi

Neighborhood concerns about the shuttles have gotten a lot of coverage, but Vicki Rosen, president of Upper Noe Neighbors, says they’re ultimately welcome in the neighborhood. They just need to be regulated like anything else.

"I think people are generally supportive of the shuttles. It’s got to be done right," said Rosen. "They don’t just have carte blanche. Like any other form of transit, they’ve got to work to be low-impact. You know, we have to keep after Muni on some things."

Like Muni, the shuttles have the potential to bring more people to the neighborhood without increasing private auto congestion. "It’s keeping cars off the street. Whenever you put a bunch of people on a bus, rather than an individual car, that’s a good thing," said Rosen. "It’s making it nice and convenient for people to live in Noe Valley and be able to commute down the Peninsula, rather than having to live down there. We’d rather have them in our community and being vital and interested members of the community. We believe in transit. We believe in cars too, you know. The less cars on the street, the better."

Rosen said Upper Noe Neighbors and other neighborhood groups got a
presentation from the TA and Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Genentech on the
study, and the companies have been responsive to concerns about things
like idling and speeding.

Amandeep Jawa, an Apple employee since 2002 and a transit activist,
says he used to bike to Caltrain to get to work, but reluctantly
switched to the shuttles about a year ago. "A lot of people who were
driving are now taking the shuttle," said Jawa. "The shuttles are doing
pretty well with picking up people who were driving otherwise."

"Part
of me feels a little bit bad about it, because I’m a transit activist,
and I get that, frankly, those of us who were taking Caltrain instead
of driving were some of Caltrain’s better customers. We would buy monthly
passes, etc. But, on the other hand, there’s no question in my mind
that there were a lot of people who were just driving down to Apple,
and now they’re taking transit, basically. They’re not driving, and
that’s a lot of cars off the road."

For his part, Dufty said he’s concerned about whether companies use vehicles appropriate for the neighborhood, but ultimately welcomes the service.

"For these private shuttles, the driver is the cost," Dufty said. "One of the things I want to understand is, are these companies, both the companies hiring the bus services, and the bus services themselves, making the best choices in terms of the equipment that they’re using, because it’s fungible between having a Gary Bauer Greyhound limo versus something that’s smaller that might have a little less of a neighborhood impact."

Dufty said the shuttles have become a part of the neighborhood fabric in ways that commuters who drive to work outside the city sometimes don’t. "There used to be a complaint, ‘All these people live in these live/works and they just get in their car and they go out,’" said Dufty. "No, this is a better choice that people are making, and it’s a more part-of-the-neighborhood-fabric choice that they’re making to participate in a shuttle service."

Another question the study could touch on is whether the employee shuttles are siphoning riders from Muni and Caltrain. Muni has not historically catered to Caltrain riders commuting out of the city in the morning and back at night, and for now, Caltrain is nearing peak capacity during rush hour commutes. But with the eventual electrification of the Caltrain line, it should be able to run more trains and carry more passengers.

Jawa, who now rides the Apple shuttle daily, said public transit riders are more likely to stand up for Muni and Caltrain, but private shuttle users are still taking a step in the right direction.

For transit riders, Jawa said, "there’s a more natural pull for them to become advocates for that transit, because they have a stake in it. Whereas people who ride Apple shuttles, the thing they have a stake in is Apple’s shuttles."

"I do think disengaging people from cars does actually help, either if it’s on a private shuttle, just getting used to the idea that, ‘you know what, I don’t drive to work, and my life is such less hassle.’"

Alternatively, big tech companies could go with the Manhattan model of
prestige, and buy or build towers downtown. "I would welcome some more
companies like this" in the city, Dufty said. "But it just seems there
is a certain synergy people have being in Silicon Valley, and there’s
not much I can do about it."

  • This one has always been a tough one for me for all the reasons mentioned. Taking cars off the road is a good thing, but why can’t these companies just locate in a better transit accessible location. Especially with how green Apple, Google (for example) claim to be.

    But it is better then driving individual cars. So I guess you fight your battles where you can.

  • Jay

    I understand that Bauer and other companies are trying to provide world-class luxury shuttling, but is it absolutely necessary to move people in the extra-large tour/commuter buses? It may be busier during regular rush hour commutes, but I doubt those extra large buses are need at 9pm at night.

  • Chris

    @mikesonn Agreed. It’s disappointing that Palo Alto-based Facebook recently chose to move from Caltrain- and pedestrian-friendly University Ave to the Stanford Research Park. No thanks!

  • The Google campus may have gyms, swimming pools, dentists, and food selection, but I have that right here in downtown SF.

  • This a good opportunity to steer the discussion over the urban future of Silicon Valley. There’s a boatload of potential to cluster development around the Caltrain corridor, but cities and companies have largely balked at doing so.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    An issue with Caltrain is that the agency spends three hand a half million a year subsidizing shuttles from suburban stations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to wasteland office parks far from the stations. Many of these shuttles run parallel to fixed route local agency service — this was the case for both of my south bay employment locations.

    Yet there are no such shuttles in San Francisco. Why this suburban giveaway? It’s not as if getting to or from the SF stations (4th&Townsend, 22nd Street) is any of fast, convenient, predictable or reliable on Muni.

    So how is that neither Caltrain nor the BAAQMD (which partially funds these shuttles) nor the local Transportation Authority (unlike its two southern peers) even CONSIDERS funding free shuttles connecting to trains in San Francisco, where Muni service is catastrophically unreliable (unlike in the wide open spaces to the south) and where Muni service doesn’t even PRETEND to serve the actual passenger flows to and from Caltrain (eg Castro, Noe, Mission, Haight to Caltrain in less than 50 minutes).

    Given the irreparable and unmitigated disaster of Muni, and the over-capacity and hence unreliable nature of bike+Caltrain+bike, it should be no suprise to anybody that only long distance home to office employer shuttle buses can hope to come within an hour of competing with private automobile travel times.

    So bring on the Google Limos! They’re good for San Francisco, the whining of my whiny “neighbors” can only be proof of that.
    And DEATH TO WORTHLESS MUNI.

  • Bob

    Why do people use San Francisco as if it were a suburban bedroom community? People should live closer to where they work. If everyone who worked at Google moved to Mountain View, it would be a pretty hip place. But no. They feel compelled to live in SF and commute 40 miles each way every fricken day. That’s not green.

  • Umm… Google has a San Francisco office right on the waterfront in Hills Plaza.

    Many Googlers do live *and* work right here in town. Yes the HQ is on the Peninsula; but they’re doing the right thing by having both offices open.

  • Richard –

    Having worked in the South Bay and riding Caltrain from SF for 11 years, I can say this. Caltrain ridership to SF is only nominally reduced by the last mile problem being exacerbated by MUNI’s unreliability. VTA is actually quite reliable, but very infrequent and not timed to meet Caltrain, and the routes don’t necessarily go to where offices are. The VTA light rail is notoriously slow.

    Additionally, the VTA you need might pick up at Sunnyvale or Santa Clara – which are not stops on the bullet trains, but for some reason those people commuting to SF, have the luxury of every train NB stopping at 4th/King.

    And frankly, the MUNI rush hour transition to downtown is quite good. Aside from the 81x, 10, 45, 30, and N, which all pretty much go to the same/similar place, and the 47 to Civic Center, there is the Jitney which is super quick albeit a bit funky. The further away from downtown you get, or if you need to get a connection, the value quickly drops away, but the jobs are downtown. If your job isn’t downtown, you are probably better off coming in on BART.

  • Bob –

    Were I to move to Santa Clara and stop taking Caltrain to work daily, my commute would be nominally greener. However, I wouldn’t live near all of the following – grocery store, post office, bank, barber, parks, restaurants, and my overall footprint would be greater. I get home to SF, and my two legs suffice. The home to work commute is very predictable and repetitive, but the rest of our travel is more of a random walk. My wife and I put far fewer miles on our single car than my co-workers who live within eyesight of the office.

    Perhaps the proper model would be to tear down housing in the suburbs and build more office parks, and have people move into the tall towers that house offices in San Francisco.

  • crazytrainmatt

    I find it hard to criticize these shuttles, as they clearly work. They’re competitive with cars in terms of cost, speed and cleanliness — that can’t be said for much of the relevant public transport. Hopefully they contribute political capital to improve the public infrastructure which can directly serve employees outside these few companies. Odds are many of the current companies won’t be around in a few decades whereas a healthy culture of public transportation is a more durable investment.

  • You can’t blame Silicon Valley employees for wanting to live in San Francisco–many of them are fresh out of college in their 20s and 30s with no reason to buy a suburban South Bay home. What Peninsula and South Bay leaders have to realize is that there is a heavy demand by Silicon Valley workers for dynamic and vibrant neighborhoods, but really the closest place to go for such an atmosphere is San Francisco. There are many potential locations to foster such an environment–Downtown San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Mateo to name a few–but these cities will have to encourage higher density development and more of a 20s-oriented culture for any shift to occur.

  • And one important exception to note: Stanford has no shuttles, and is consequently Caltrain’s largest ridership base. Stanford’s highly-developed commuter programs and relatively easy access from the Palo Alto Caltrain station definitely helps, but I think once Caltrain is electrified, extended to Downtown, and upgraded for WiFi, a lot more companies will follow suit.

  • Nick

    I’m from Mountain View, but I live in San Francisco. I know both cities very well. A few points:

    -It’s too easy to lump the entire South Bay together as low-density suburbia. As far as density goes, per the Greenbelt Alliance: “The housing density in Mountain View of around 12 units per acre is one of the highest in the Bay Area outside San Francisco, and the city is unusual in having far more multifamily units than single family detached homes.”
    http://www.greenbelt.org/getinvolved/outings/urbanoutings/mtview/index.html)

    -So, Mountain View already has the density, it just needs to restructure itself a bit to create more walkable “full service” neighborhoods outside of the downtown area, which is already very ped/bike/transit friendly. The City has already gone a long way toward doing this along its VTA Light Rail and Caltrain lines. Of course, more could be done, and the City is updating its General Plan as we speak to allow it to happen. For example, Google and the City are now discussing transforming the North Bayshore District (home of the Googleplex) into a mixed use neighborhood, perhaps even with a light rail spur running from Downtown and up Shoreline Boulevard.
    http://www.mv-voice.com/news/show_story.php?id=1587

    -That said, no matter how much smart infill growth occurs in smaller cities like Mountain View, San Francisco will always be a major magnet for 20-somethings who have tech jobs down there. There are certain big city draws that Mountain View does not have the capacity to offer. I think the burden of getting some of those 20-something looking for a “Big City” life to move closer to their South Bay jobs falls mainly on the shoulders of the greater Downtown San Jose area – which has miles to go before it reaches its full potential.

  • I agree with Mike. It’s a shame these major companies chose to locate so far from transit hubs. However, the cities of the South Bay are to blame since their plans have encouraged low density sprawl parks as the solution for office space. Only recently have South Bay cities intensified uses around Caltrain stations. With the exception of Sunnyvale and Downtown San Jose, many of the cities along the Caltrain line cannot politically place office buildings into the fabric around Caltrain stations. Of course I fantasize that Mountain View will some day convert California Street into a more mixed use community that connects downtown with an intensified San Antonio area via streetcar. But, not in my lifetime.

    Daniel, I don’t think it’s fair to say Palo Alto has no shuttles. Stanford runs the Marguerite Shuttle which connects to Caltrain at the Palo Alto station. The service is free and the main routes run frequently. Like you said though, the major draw is probably discounted Caltrain tickets for Stanford employees.

  • Why don’t tech company buy or build towers in San Francisco downtown?

    I think I can answer this question. Many suburban people want to avoid San Francisco altogether. San Francisco is far away for most population in the south bay. Driving in the dense street is deemed exotic and exceeding difficult for people who are used to drive in freeway and wide boulevard. Many don’t want to have anything to do with the city except the occasional trip to Fishermen’s wharf and GG bridge when they have visitors. And let’s face it, public transportation is very much less than ideal, especially when it requires multiple transfers.

    If you are opening a new company and target to hire, say 1,000 people. You will probably expect most of the people are from the suburb and a minority from San Francisco. This is just simple math. San Francisco has a population of 800,000. The suburb has perhaps 10 times more. It is not realistic to hire most of the 1,000 employees from San Francisco or it will greatly limit your access to talent pool. So will you buy a tower in the downtown if most of your prospective employees want to avoid San Francisco?

    This is not a easy trend to change. Some of it is due to geography. San Francisco is just far from South bay, and South bay is where the critical mass for the tech industry is located. The best you can do is to focus on some niche and the talent pool in East bay and Marin. It should also encourage smart growth in the city itself those population is fairly stagnant in the last few decades.

    Finally it should vastly improve the public transport to region. Caltrain to downtown and more bullet train are really important. Direct access like those corporate shuttle is an useful alternative. They can be a big improvement over BART and Caltrain. I don’t consider driving a practical alternative. But I think we should not reject them entirely either. Perhaps we can come up with some creative idea, let’s say using AT&T parking lot for a day for $20 and have a lot of transit options fan out from there. As least it can be useful for people who make occasional trip to the city.

  • Also it is not just 20-something who want to live in San Francisco. There are also a lot of 40-something, 50-something, family with kids, etc want to live in here. It is just a great place for many different people.

  • bikerider

    Speaking also as a one-time Caltrain commuter who gave up on the service out of frustration: the problem really isn’t that companies have located far away from Caltrain stations. Rather, the problem is that Caltrain — even the Baby “Bullets” — is unbelievably slow. *Steam* era slow.

    If Caltrain were running high-frequency 125mph expresses (something many well-to-do Japanese and European workers take for granted), then the last-mile problem would be a non-issue. Even with the most round-about slow VTA bus connection, a 125mph Caltrain+bus trip would be much more convenient than an employee shuttle bus.

  • Bikerider, I disagree with your statement about Caltrain. Bullets and Limiteds reach 80mph between stations which is pretty fast and even faster than BART. I don’t think many other foreign or domestic suburban services go much faster. Even with High Speed Rail on the peninsula, Caltrain probably won’t go faster than 90 or 110. For the ultimate in express service one can just take a HSR train and cruise down the peninsula in 30 minutes.

    Since Caltrain won’t be getting much faster, it’s best to encourage more intense land use around the stations to help solve the transfer problem.

  • I live (carfree) in SF and work at Apple. I take the company shuttle almost always, and Caltrain only occasionally. For me, it is simply too much extra daily time (~1.5hrs total vs. ~1hr on Apple bus), cost and hassle to the train with a bus ride on both ends. Sometimes (later in the day, for example), I’ll bike-Caltrain, which is wonderful – but of course there’s a good chance I’ll get bumped and get to work 2 hours late. I’ll reconsider if Caltrain gets faster or more accommodating to bikers (the Apple bus does not allow bikes).

  • david vartanoff

    there are several separate issues here.
    first, SF is just more interesting. Anyone who wants a long description should read Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class.

    second, of course getting these workers out of their cars is great. The negative is that well behaved riders disappear from public transit both skewing the mix on board toward the more disorderly, and reducing political pressure for improvement.

    third, the supposed need for face to face synergy on a daily basis is obsolete.

  • @Jarrett: Caltrain will go a lot faster with electrification–Locals will run as fast as Baby Bullets and Baby Bullet travel time will probably be cut to under 50 minutes for SF-SJ. Increasing the top speed doesn’t matter as much as increasing the lower speeds (i.e. Caltrain’s acceleration speed before and after stops, as well as Caltrain’s speed at grade crossing and curves, which will be improved). So, Caltrain does have a lot of room for improvement, and ridership should increase greatly once these improvements are made to speed up service.

    Also, I meant that Stanford has no shuttles from SF. It runs its own local bus service, but it doesn’t have any employee commuter shuttles.

  • car free as of yesterday

    I work at Apple. I started riding the shuttles the day they started. My shuttle picks me up 2 blocks from home. Guess what? I just sold my car. I’ve never been car free. I joined city carshare and have used MUNI and BART more in the last week than I have in the last *year.*

    Caltrain was never an option for me. A public transportation commute is over 2.5 hours *each way* on public transportation. Driving took me 45 minutes.

    I love the shuttle and I can’t understand why anyone has an issue with it. The drivers are safe and yeah, maybe some cars have to wait the few minutes it takes to get everyone off at a stop but so what? That’s the same inconvenience you find with any MUNI bus. Unless MUNI hits someone and then the delays are even better.

    The comment about not working in SF is bizarre to me. Do you think I want to work in Cupertino? I’ve tried for years to find well paying work in SF and it’s *not here.* Think SF is expensive? Try Cupertino. I can’t afford a place to live in Cupertino and maintain a car (you will have to drive everywhere as there is no reliable bus service and feel free to count how many people you see on the sidewalks actually walking). If you have mobility issues you will have to have a car. In SF I am able to afford a small flat and pay property taxes that benefit my city.

    William – ask the drive to open the cargo space, you can put your bike under the bus and then just pull it out. People at my stop do that a lot.

  • Ellen

    The reason my husband and I moved to San Francisco is because he works at Mountain View (formerly at NASA, now at Google), while I work at Mills College in Oakland. It’s not always possible for couples to live near where they work (unless they don’t live near each other).

  • js

    I have no problem with the shuttles per se as a stopgap measure (I mean frankly, those suburban campuses on Peninsula will become completely obsolete someday in the not-too-distant future when Google and Yahoo are going to have to foot the bill to bus all of their employees because driving costs and congestion will make it fundamentally prohibitive to drive).
    The issues come down to these – (1) regulation of private bus usage of city streets and curb space, and (2) the opportunity represented by extra capacity on those shuttles.

    (1) Use of curb space/bus stops. What is fundamentally a problem is the use of Muni bus stops and other curb space for private shuttles. Muni bus stops are not for use for anything else except for Muni buses, and non-Muni vehicles are legally not allowed even to idle there. I grant that there isn’t a Muni bus at the stop every minute of day. I would propose that if private shuttles want to use bus stops in the City, that they pay a usage fee for each stop. Say, $50 per pickup per stop, with additional specific regulations about how long they can stop for. Otherwise, they should be ticketed the full $270 fine for stopping in a bus stop.

    (2) Excess capacity. These majority of these buses are not full to capacity. Thus, they represent unused transit capacity that could be available to other members of the public (i.e. non-employees of that company) who may have a destination nearby that of the shuttle and would find it useful to take that shuttle. As part of the regulatory system for these shuttles, the shuttles should be available to non-employees, and the companies can charge a fee if they want.

    With those rules and fees in place, I would even support putting up signage at the bus stops used by the shuttles advertising this as a “Google stop” and listing the timetable and other pertinent information, just like bus stops list all of the other regional transit providers who service the stop (e.g. GGT, SamTrans, etc.).

  • Jason Thorpe

    As a user of one of these employee shuttles, I can say that I did not siphon ridership away from MUNI. In fact, before I started using the shuttle, I used MUNI quite infrequently (basically, whenever I had tickets to a Giants game). Now I take MUNI every day (using a Fast Pass) to where I pick up the shuttle.

  • shuttlelover

    js – have you ridden any of these!? i just started riding one to google and they are PACKED.

    i understand when they started you could have a seat to yourself, but not any more.

    apple folks? are your shuttles empty?

    seriously why should my company have to offer seats to other people when it’s not subsidized by public funds? are single drivers in mini vans expected to do the same? hey honey! let’s grab that homeless guy so he can sleep in the back seat while we do our errands all day. lets grab those teens who will steal our laptops and ipods!

    everyone stops in a bus lane. people park in them. i bet you have too. a fine for pausing and not even holding up traffic? c’mon that’s just stupid.

  • I live in the Castro/Noe Valley area and have no problem with the Google/Apple/whatever buses going down my street, as long as these buses aren’t tooling around with just five or six people in them. However, requesting they don’t idle more than a minute, spewing pollution into the neighborhood, seems more than reasonable to me.

    I am thrilled to hear about all the San Franciscans choosing to go car-free! I hope Caltrain will become easier to access by both bike or Muni since in the near future electric trains really need to be the workhorse getting people up and down the Pennisula. (Kudos to Stanford for encouraging Caltrain for their employees.) Caltrain ending downtown rather than Fourth and Townsend is essential–way more essential than the Central Subway. If I could cancel Central Subway and put all the money into speeding up the change of the Caltrain terminus, I would.

    In addition, I hope all these San Franciscan commuters are pestering their employers to open offices here in the city. It seems a common sense thing to do if this is where a large percentage of their employees want to live.

  • @taomom – In addition, I hope all these San Franciscan commuters are pestering their employers to open offices here in the city.

    Plenty do. It’s called “working at home in your underwear”. But for those who have to visit customers, it won’t matter if the offices are opened in San Francisco, since the customers are probably still in the South Bay.

  • js

    I see the Genentech bus running half full all the time as they get on and off the freeway at Octavia. But that’s a side point.

    The main point is that Muni bus stops on city streets are not there for the private use of any corporation, whether they want to run their own private transit service or any other private use.

    The shuttles using the bus stops is not any different than a competing private transit company starting up and expecting to use Muni’s infrastructure for free. Can you imagine if I started JoeSmoe’S Geary Street Transit and started advertising that I will stop at all 38-Geary bus stops every 10 minutes, and not only did I advertise that I would now be using Muni bus stops, but I advertised that I would only pick up people who were members of an exclusive members-only club? There would be outrage that I was using public infrastructure for my private use.

    It’s totally naive to think that shuttles should just be allowed tacitly to use public transit infrastructure without getting approval to do so and having to regulated. These are big corporations with deep pockets. If they can afford to offer free rides to their employees, buy fancy buses and pay drivers, they can pay the City for the use of stops and behave according to a predetermined set of rules of proper behavior. It’s not like this is a casual, occassional practice with random unpredictable stops, like taxis. These are predetermined, daily routes and stops. It is a transit service, and it’s using public transit infrastucture. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • ZA

    I’m just a little confused about how these corporate shuttles are used. Is it a point-to-point milk run like a school bus, or is it pod-to-pod?

    Either way, I think there may be more efficient ways to get the job done … the school buses operate before the main commuting hours, and if the Genenbus has to deal with Glen Park, why isn’t the pick up point moved to another part of the BART line, or the shuttle turned into a BART feeder?

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    js: You can’t know how many hours I’ve idled away daydreaming about starting a private service that competes with the Muni 1BX.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Caltrain ending downtown?

    Uh sorry, you may have voted for it, and you may be paying for it, but that’s not what the rail geniuses and the Transbay JPA and at Caltrain are planning for you.

    2/3 of Transbay (4 of 6 platforms) are being being exclusively dedicated to high speed trains, even though high speed trains will be a minority of trains and high speed passengers will be a small minority of users of the tracks down the peninsula.

    75% of Caltrain service is “planned” (I use the word is only the loosest sense) to terminate at the existing 4th&Townsend Siberia.

    This is what Caltrain wants. This is what the High Speed booddogglists want. This is what the Transbay JPA is paying for.

    Too bad for you, suckers! You may have thought you were voting for a “Caltrain downtown extension” but what you’re getting s $4 billion of park build three stories up in the air on top of a bus station.

  • @Richard (and slightly off-topic)
    Why wouldn’t Caltrain run all trains into the Transbay Terminal and straight back out again if it’s being run like a rapid transit line? It’s not like they’re going to be using Transbay to store trains…

  • Marc

    It might be worth remembering that the Emery-go-round started out as a private commute hour shuttle service for some of the large employers in Emeryville at the time. Each company was running its own shuttle service, then the services were consolidated but still, essentially private to the employees of the sponsoring companies. Some years later, it became an all day service with routes serving a larger part of Emeryville.

    My guess is that at some point they’ll be more cooperation between the companies and a consolidation of services.

  • Godot

    These shuttles, while a Good Idea at one level (I wish my company ran a shuttle up and down the peninsula when I worked down there), the execution leaves MUCH to be desired. They run noisy, enormous vehicles on residential streets until 9:30pm! They run up and down Noe Street – full of hills – for absolutely no apparent reason. Run the ^$#%@& busses on major thoroughfares like Mission or San Jose/Guerrero and make the commuters walk or take MUNI to get there. Following the route for the 24 is insane.

    Actually the shuttle is a good idea on another level – the corporate masters get their minions to work while coming to and from work. Not enough that they work at home, on weekends, at night, and while in the office – now they can work 24/7. I love technology (some of which I’m responsible for…heh heh heh!)! There, 9:19pm, I just heard the last one for the night go by from the back of my house, 100 feet off the road.

  • Anonymous

    SF does not have anything close to a “COMPLEX” system.  It’s BASIC and stripped down and privatized.  It’s bare bones.  PHILADELPHIA has a REAL system.

  • Anonymous

    Muni BLOWS.  Should be demolished.  Waste of taxpayer money that could be funneled into East coast systems