Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA’s Budget Deficits Remain After Cost-Cutting, State Funding (SF Examiner)
  • C.W. Nevius: New Park Station Police Captain “Hits Bumpy Patch Over the Wiggle”
  • Directors of TransForm, Silicon Valley Group Praise Boxer’s Senate Transpo Bill (Mercury News)
  • House Transportation Bill Backs Offshore Drilling (SFGate)
  • SMART Rail Cars On Track For 2013 Delivery (Press Democrat)
  • SF Appeal Poll: Should Muni Let Shuttle Buses Share Their Stops?

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Private shuttles already use bus stops, and block the bike lane in doing so. Take the bus stop at 8th and Market; this morning there was one private shuttle in the bus stop, and another angled behind it blocking the bike lane. In doing so cyclists are forced out of the bike lane and into a lane of car traffic which is moving at much higher speeds.

    Any official declaration allowing private use of public stops needs to include a plan for how the existing traffic laws will be enforced.

  • Anonymous

    Private shuttles have grown so much that I’m starting to question if they should be supported so fully. It’s kinda like bottled water: it bypasses existing infrastructure and hence is redundant. If all these people were taking (or demanding to take) Muni, it would put massive pressure on Muni to increase service. But instead, employers just go: public transit sucks, so I’ll provide my employees with their own “public transit” which I’ll subsidize. Then we end up with all these redundant systems which aren’t coordinated and controlled. For example, the “Google Buses” (or Facebook, or whatever) have started getting real annoying all around the Mission, Noe Valley, etc. They take quiet residential streets, they block the road and bike lanes, and they make it harder for everyone to see.

    I think the city might need to reign them in. Their should be a limited amount of permits available. If people want better public transit, we should demand it from the city, not private employers.

  • Exactly, if they are using public infrastructure then the services they provide should be accessible to everyone.

  • mikesonn

    I’d gladly hop the google bus that picks up in the 30 stop at Columbus/Union.

  • Tlgood

    Would you rather have one bus that rumbles by once in a while, or 100 cars queued up at the intersection? Those buses ensure a 100% car-free commute for every one of those companies’ employees living in the city, and many of them don’t buy cars as a result.

    And would you rather they stop at a Muni stop or in front of someone’s house? A better approach than limiting licenses or scaling back is to further refine the routes and choose rationale stopping points. Which is already what the TA is working on.

  • Tlgood

    You have to wonder, though, how much companies are spending on these shuttles. How about the Silicon Valley giants put down some money to help electrify Caltrain? 

  • officials believe private shuttle buses move over 5,000 people a day (as opposed to just 2,000 three years ago).

    I’m not sure if this count is solely for Genen/Apple/Ebay/Facebook/Google, but let’s say for grins that those people would otherwise be taking Caltrain if the shuttle buses disappeared.

    Caltrain’s SB AM commute cannot handle another 5000 people. The trains are getting pretty full and there isn’t currently room to add trains other than perhaps adding train 236 leaving SF at 9:37 back to the schedule.

    Then there is the problem of getting those people to Caltrain. The 48/N sure, but a lot would try to drive to 22nd Street where as we know parking is getting pretty tight. Or they would bike – Warm Planet is full and the trains are filling.

    If they went away, the only possible results would be more cars on the roads or people moving to the South Bay (which might not be so horrible, but there are barriers to that now that many of these folks have purchased homes). We’ve intentionally lowered the capacity on Cesar Chavez.

    The shuttles are good. For every issue I see with a shuttle bus on 24th Street in Noe Valley, I see cars blocking 24th in both directions waiting to get into Whole Foods 20 times.

    If we could add 4x the current capacity to the 48, with an express, and run 2x the number of Caltrains, we might be able to address the need. Maybe.

  • Anonymous

    @4dbcde38dbbf4d9e082796b71dce7a1b:disqus wrote: “Would you rather have one bus that rumbles by once in a while, or 100 cars queued up at the intersection? Those buses ensure a 100% car-free commute for every one of those
    companies’ employees living in the city, and many of them don’t buy cars
    as a result.”

    Your list of options is incomplete. There are other options: employees can use existing public transit (and the company could use a fraction of the money they spend on the shuttles to support that public transit), or employees can not live so far from their workplace that they need shuttles (in the case of those traveling to the South Bay). Our choice doesn’t have to be shuttle buses running wild or everyone driving.

    “And would you rather they stop at a Muni stop or in front of someone’s
    house?”

    A muni stop. Note that I never said I was against that idea. I agree that they should be stopping at designated spots instead of people’s houses, but I don’t think it’s fair that they are compromising Muni service (by clogging stops) or clogging the roads/bike lanes because we didn’t design our bus routes to handles so many buses.

    “A better approach than limiting licenses or scaling back is to
    further refine the routes and choose rationale stopping points. Which is
    already what the TA is working on.”

    That is good. It certainly seems like the shuttles have had free reign with where they want to go, and they have abused that privilege, so it’s time they are controlled and regulated.

    “You have to wonder, though, how much companies are spending on these
    shuttles. How about the Silicon Valley giants put down some money to
    help electrify Caltrain?”

    Exactly my point! This whole shuttle bus thing is creating redundant (and haphazardly-designed with unregulated) infrastructure and is taking away resources (customers) from actual public transit. I would like to see Google, for example, pushing Caltrain really hard (or even giving them money) to improve service (be it electrification, adding wi-fi, etc.) rather than bypassing it with private shuttles.

  • Anonymous

    @twitter-14678929:disqus wrote: “Caltrain’s SB AM commute cannot handle another 5000 people.”

    Agreed. But it’s a catch-22: the system can’t handle it because the people don’t take it (the main reason Caltrain eliminated service that was running every half-hour a couple years back was because nobody was taking it and hence they weren’t making enough revenue from fares). If all those Google, Facebook, etc employees said they wanted to take Caltrain and their employers joined in with them, they could leverage serious pressure on Caltrain (and even give them some of the money they are currently spending on their own shuttles). But sure, if tomorrow we eliminated the shuttle buses overnight, the system would not be able to handle it and people would have to drive. But just like it took some years to get here, it will take some years to readjust again.

    However, what we can do tomorrow is immediately *start* changing directions and get the employers and everybody else to recognize that having a separate, private form of “public transit” is inefficient when we already have one place. If the current public transit system can’t handle it, the solution is to improve that existing service, not add some separate system that is private. From this day forward, that is the attitude we should take and start slowly adding extra capacity so that the shuttle buses can be slowly cut back.

    “The trains
    are getting pretty full and there isn’t currently room to add trains
    other than perhaps adding train 236 leaving SF at 9:37 back to the
    schedule.”

    They really do need to get 236 back though. And I would like to see another

  • Valid points, but I see no reason that the companies operating these shuttles shouldn’t be required to make financial contributions to improve the infrastructure they leech off of. There should also be a system in place to optimize their schedules so we don’t end up with bus stops so full of shuttles and buses that other lanes lanes are completely blocked.

  • TL

    @jd_x:disqus “…or employees can not live so far from their workplace that they need shuttles (in the case of those traveling to the South Bay).”

    On the whole, I think it’s better for an employee to live in SF and take a shuttle than to live in the South Bay (and most likely drive to work, given where these employers are located): 

    In the short term, they’re probably contributing less to carbon emissions and congestion, by virtue of living an urban lifestyle outside of work, and taking a large (cleanish fuel) bus to work. 

    In the medium term, a class of workers is developing who prefer to live in the city, having experienced it, who in turn are leading to more tech companies being started right here in SF — this is already happening. 

    In the long term, hopefully even these mega-employers (Google, Apple, Facebook) will start to think about the locational efficiency of their workplaces — not happening yet, but the seeds of a shift are in place (shame that Apple and Facebook are both cementing highway-oriented locations right now!)

    If folks are feeling like doing some transit-fantasizing: how about Facebook chips in to not only electrify Caltrain, but also create a Dumbarton rail extension, with a stop at Facebook HQ. Check out how close that rail spur is to their new campus! http://g.co/maps/x84dv

  • Those SMART Sharryo cars are looking good; I didn’t know Toronto purchased the same model, and that SMART got some royalties for it.  Very cool.

    Given Nippon Sharryo’s history, perhaps they’ll have a better time producing FRA-compliant DMUs than Colorado Railcar.

  • They pay gas taxes unlike you cyclists 😉

  • ouch, total ice burn.

  • I always read Today’s Headlines, and this is the first that has no accident stories. Hard to believe that not a single pedestrian or cyclist was hit by a motorist in the last 24 hours. Are you guys going soft on Death Machines?

  • Was the troll deadline so impending that you forgot how to spell your name?

  • Anonymous

    @c85acb5e016ebe79fb387718619cf335:disqus there was even a plan to add a Willow Road station in the Dumbarton Rail project. Shame that plan got nixed and the money diverted to Silicon Valley BART instead.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Many reporters apparently had President’s Day off and there were very few news articles posted this morning in general.

  • Andy Chow

    I think pretty much all of the companies that provide long distance shuttles (not very many) already provide shuttle to and from Caltrain and that there are far more employers provide shuttles just to and from Caltrain.

    Part of the reason long distance shuttles are attractive is because it can serve areas of the city that are far from Caltrain. Rather than shuttling people from their homes to the train, and from the train to work, they just take people from their homes to work. Muni is pretty much a non-starter due to their poor access to and from Caltrain and poor reliability. Muni is manageable if you’re taking it directly from home to work or from the train to work, but not from home to train where the train leaves on time and doesn’t run very frequently (some guy in a wheelchair could easily break a reasonable connection).