Commentary: Why This Senior and Transit Advocate Blocked a Google Bus

Photo: @FitzTheReporter/Twitter

Editor’s note: This is a guest op-ed that does not represent the views of Streetsblog.

Buses good, cars bad. I get it.

Corporate shuttles replace thousands of cars — so why would someone who’s spent hours pounding the podium at Muni hearings, and campaigning for cyclists and pedestrians, join a blockade of seniors and disabled people protesting tech buses? Over time, I’ve gone from considering the buses positive, to understanding their destructive role in San Francisco’s displacement crisis.

Housing-war history, generational conflicts, and the consequences of growing inequality all churn the current debate over who can live in San Francisco. Getting stuck in a simplistic “buses good, cars bad” formula can keep sustainable transportation advocates from appreciating all this context. I’ve been dismayed at some comments on Streetsblog about “those idiot Google bus blockaders.” One commenter even claimed that the backers of the pro-car “Restore Transportation Balance” ballot measure must be the same as those blocking the buses.

This defies belief! Tenant advocates have been the driving force behind recent antidisplacement actions, including the bus blockades, and as someone who’s worked with the San Francisco Tenants Union for decades, I can testify that it’s always a struggle to find someone with a car to haul campaign literature or conduct a carpool. The Restore Transportation Balance backers, in contrast, are largely Republicans and homeowners. The same right-wingers who wail, “The bike coalition runs this town” also say “The tenants union runs this town.”

My thinking on the corporate shuttles changed when I began making connections between transportation justice and economic equity. Streetsblog readers understand automobile domination, the bullying assumption that cars have the right of way, and pedestrians and cyclists should flutter aside like pigeons. Similarly, corporate domination runs right over vulnerable populations. The two issues often converge, as when our puppet mayor takes orders from his venture capital bosses and, like a vending machine, spits out the repeal of Sunday parking meter enforcement, a bait and switch on vehicle license fee increases, and tepid lip service on Vision Zero.

Streetsblog readers also understand induced demand: Build garages and widen roads, and people will drive more. The principle works for housing as well. Make it easy to live in San Francisco and commute to lucrative work on the Peninsula, and more people with lots of cash will move here. Unfortunately, they often seek housing already occupied by tenants who had no plans to leave and who find themselves forced out of the city by a scorched-earth real estate assault.

Seniors make up a disproportionate slice of those being evicted, as we often live on fixed incomes and pay relatively low rent because we’ve lived in our apartments so long. According to the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, 72 percent of Ellis Act evictions between 2011 and 2013 involved seniors. Retired teachers, librarians, or hotel or healthcare workers who never earned big salaries but expected to live out their remaining years in their community added stability and collective memory to their neighborhoods. Now they’re packing U-Hauls.

Photo: Bruce Halperin

The seniors I joined to blockade a corporate shuttle on August 1, the first day of San Francisco’s pilot program seeking token payment for public space, all have their stories. Younger readers may not appreciate how much of what they take for granted comes thanks to our rebellious generation. We’re used to fighting back and not letting big money dictate to us.

I was too young and brainwashed to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, but some of my fellow blockaders were there. My introduction to activism happened in spring 1968 when the Columbia campus exploded against the Vietnam War and racist expansions by the university into nearby Harlem. After that came the women’s movement, union organizing, and grunt work in tenant campaigns. When I began to focus on transportation issues more than 20 years ago, all of these earlier political involvements helped me understand transportation advocacy as a social justice movement that can’t flourish in isolation, ignorant of class, race, and history.

Housing that follows transit with no regard for affordability defeats the purpose, as wealthier residents who move into cities wind up driving more than the poorer people they displace. I’m not unaware of the trends showing younger people driving less, and this is a hopeful development. But forcing seniors and low-income workers out into the suburbs, where transit is lacking, means someone else may have to drive to a job in the city, in a hotel or hospital, or for medical services that may now be a short walk or bus ride away. Where is the gain?

Any rant by an older person risks coming across as the “I walked 10 miles through the snow to school” wheeze about how much harder we had it than you whippersnappers. Actually, I think young people today have it a lot tougher than my peers and I did. When I graduated from college in 1971, if you fogged a mirror, you could get a job; housing was cheap and easy to find; and student debt was nowhere near the crisis it is today. (Of course, the military draft was in effect, “help wanted” ads were still segregated by sex, and racial oppression was much more blatant — all things my fellow blockaders and I fought to change.)

Young people today are groaning under income inequality that started with the Reagan era. It may be hard to believe, but homelessness was not a major problem in San Francisco before the 1980s, when the Reagan administration gutted housing funding.

So why the bus? My longtime neighbors disappear one at a time, forced out by eviction or harassment. Beloved local stores, laundromats, and family restaurants vanish without warning. I’ve participated in many pickets and rallies against such individual losses, but these actions are mostly ignored. Meanwhile, the massive buses trundle by in pods, day after day. They always remind me of the chapter in Moby-Dick, “The Whiteness of the Whale,” which certainly reflects the latest workforce diversity figures from Yahoo, Google, and Facebook. The buses have become a symbol of the razing of a community into a monoculture.

Monocultures serve no one, including those whose culture takes over. When I hear poet Nikki Giovanni say, “I can’t imagine not having old people in my life,” I wonder how many workers at the big tech companies have gray hair. And I wonder who wants to live in a community where everyone is like them.

I appreciate that young people are so nonchalant about same-sex marriage, transgender friends, and mixed-race couples and children — issues that sent earlier generations into a frenzy. But it’s not enough. Too many young people, especially those with money to burn, go along with that program started under Reagan and blame those less wealthy for their own problems. Without an anchor of social justice and awareness of one’s own privilege — and the very different reality others face — they can be manipulated by their corporate masters into thinking the whole world revolves around the latest app, falling for amenities instead of rights. What’s the overtime pay on the Peninsula, and when did being ultracool replace sticking up for yourself?

Our city’s tattered public transit runs parallel with luxury liners on wheels, a two-tiered system that smacks of apartheid. Meanwhile, 69 percent of all no-fault evictions between 2011 and 2013 took place within four blocks of a corporate shuttle stop. San Francisco has always been a magnet for outsiders: beatniks, gays, hippies, refugees from vicious dictators in Central and South America. The people who came here in these earlier migrations came for freedom and community, not to make money and sneer at the poorer people already here.

When cities were out of favor and the middle class fled to the suburbs, the weirdos, the pinkos, and the poor kept the flame alive. Now that cities are the place to be, the people who never gave up on them are — pardon the cliché — being thrown under the bus.

Fran Taylor is a retired medical editor. She’s cochair of CC Puede, recipient of a 2013 Golden Wheel award for work on Cesar Chavez Street, and a longtime member of Walk SF and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

  • jim

    This is ridiculous. SF is a city, not a village or town. There is a housing crisis because we aren’t building enough housing. That’s it. Simple. I’m sorry your waterfront view was blocked, that’s life. They’ve figured this out in more or less every major city. More housing, even luxury housing, lowers prices for everyone.

    The Muni is terrible. But to afford a better transit system, we need more density. Eg, more housing.

  • coolbabybookworm

    Yeah I laughed at that a bit as well. It’ll be interesting to see if Palo Alto does end up allowing any kind of development…

  • murphstahoe

    “A sensible schedule to accommodate all the buses at all the bus stops, down to the Caltrans (sic) station”

    You lost me at “Caltrans station”, but I’ll bite.

    Do you have any data showing that a “gas-guzzling bus” is more polluting than a train (which guzzles diesel by the way…)? Remember that the buses are going point to point and require little to no last mile transportation that may also guzzle gas.

    I think there are a few quotes that might enlighten you.

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Agendas/2014/8-7-14+JPB+BOD+Agenda+Packet.pdf

    Public Comment

    Greg Conlon, Atherton, said as former commissioner and President of the California Public Utilities Commission he believes corporate buses, such as Google ,are taking ridership away from Caltrain. He is not sure if there is an issue or a concern of staff and the Board.

    Mr. Scanlon (Caltrain CEO) said it is good these buses are taking ridership away because of the capacity issue on Caltrain.

    From Palo Alto

    Kate Downing, also urging more housing, suggested
    that the city do more to address the needs of its less affluent
    residents. She lamented the transformation of Palo Alto into a city
    exclusively for millionaires.

    “If we don’t allow for growth, Silicon Valley as
    we know it today will cease to exist,” Downing said. “We will have
    priced out all the young workers and all the new companies.”

  • jonobate

    Caltrain will never attract a significant number of people who currently use the shuttle buses, because the Caltrain stations in SF are not close to where most people live, and the Caltrain stations in Silicon Valley are not close to where most people work. You’d need a connecting bus on both ends, and a Bus + Rail + Bus journey will never be able to compete with a door-to-door shuttle.

    Just Google Map a few examples if you don’t believe me. Travel times from most SF addresses to Google, Apple, or Facebook HQ come in at 2 – 3 hours on public transit. You might shave 15 mins of those times with better connections – not enough to make transit competitive with the shuttles.

    Sadly, you won’t be able to create a more attractive transportation alternative to the tech shuttles with current land use patterns. The only way to get people to stop using the tech shuttles will be to ban them. And if you ban the tech shuttles, the people who currently use them will choose the next most attractive form of transportation – driving alone.

    The real problem here is that tech companies were pushed to locate in suburban office parks which will never be easily accessible by transit. This was due to anti-development activists in both SF and the peninsula cities who did not want increased growth in downtown SF, downtown Menlo Park, downtown Palo Alto etc, and enacted height limits and office space caps to prevent development. Ironically, in SF many of those anti-development activists are also anti-shuttle activists.

    Resolving this land use problem is key to solving the affordability crisis.

  • Gezellig

    “The real problem here is that tech companies were pushed to locate in suburban office parks which will never be easily accessible by transit. This was due to anti-development activists in both SF and the peninsula cities who did not want increased growth in downtown SF, downtown Menlo Park, downtown Palo Alto etc, and enacted height limits and office space caps to prevent development. Ironically, in SF many of those anti-development activists are also anti-shuttle activists.”

    Yup! At a generational level the “Mine-Mine” Bay Area Boomer m.o. seems to be:

    Step 1) oppose transit infrastructure for decades (“we can just drive! a train will ruin MY property value! MY taxes are already too high! squalor!”)

    Step 2) oppose new multiunit housing for decades (“it’ll ruin MY view! MY street parking! traffic! MY property values! squalor!”)

    Step 3) while the predictable and totally self-inflicted housing and transit shortage crisis has been emerging and affecting more and more people in the background for decades, don’t say anything until it actually starts to affect you and people you know.

    Step 4) Then have a photo-op in front of a shuttle.

    Just to be clear this isn’t an attack on any individual but on the kinds of collective actions a whole generation has taken for decades leading us to this situation.

    By the way, there are lots of cities in the world that have chosen to preserve their historic centers intact–more or less as living museums–while concentrating new office and modern housing developments in smart clusters outside the historic centers. There are various pros and cons to this, but my experience living in Amsterdam showed me that this is at least viable when you cluster all the suburban growth in smart targeted areas all linked by excellent transit to the city center. For me it took living in the Netherlands to realize that suburbia doesn’t have to suck per se, especially when it’s designed smartly.

    Our land use + transit policies have got to change, but undoing decades of poor (and self-serving) decisions which are still ongoing is tough. Standing in front of a tech shuttle (which itself is a coping strategy for the unfortunate status quo the Boomers have bequeathed the next generations) is not doing anything remotely close to addressing the actual problem.

  • AuntieTom

    I repeat, if the workers don’t like taking public transit then they can move closer to their work. The planet simply can’t afford excessive pollutants from transportation. Over 60% of global warming is coming from transportation. Source: http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/global-warming-caused-by-the-transportation-sector-could-devastate-the-transportation-sector

  • Telstar401

    Amen. There’s absolutely nothing new in Fran’s argument above, except more of the usual excuses for doing nothing, combined with more of the usual Boomer self-congratulation.

  • AuntieTom
  • disqus_S1ql48Vi9i

    TLDR!!!

  • AuntieTom

    Re the “capacity issue on Caltrain”: Can’t Caltrain add more cars to its locomotive load as needed? Also, I guess we need to know stats to compare carbon effluents per Caltrain trips to bus trips, bearing in mind that a train can carry far, far more riders in one trip than can even a monster bus. I’m supposing that the train comes out far lower per rider than buses. (Many Muni buses are electric, not gas powered so not emitting carbon or other noxious effluents for our city residents to breathe.)

    Also, it does seem as if housing needs to be built nearer the Silicon Valley work sites. Why don’t those booming businesses do something about that?

  • Gezellig

    It’s not that tech workers don’t like taking transit–every day Caltrain overflows with tech (and other) workers. The problem is the region’s transit and land-use patterns have not been optimized for more people to have Caltrain/BART/etc. as viable options.

    Caltrain runs along a narrow band of real-estate far from where most people in SF live. The housing that does exist near Caltrain is often prohibitively expensive (in no small part due to Caltrain’s very popularity).

    Also, if only it were so simple to “just move closer to work.” Silicon Valley is also dealing with a severe housing shortage created by many of the same issues as in SF–at a high-level NIMBYs opposing new growth for decades.

    Another thing to point out–people who live in Silicon Valley overwhelmingly drive because the built environment basically screams for them to do so. Tech shuttles allow many a carless tech worker to return home to SF where they walk/take transit/bike to run errands, see friends and go out. These are things that people who live in Mountain View/etc. generally do in a car. Not only do they drive to work, but they drive to dinner, drive to the supermarket, drive to see their friends, etc.

    Btw, low-income people are increasingly being forced out of Silicon Valley communities, as well, precisely due to the same Bay Area-wide housing shortage. You may like to fantasize about “shipping all those techies away” but they’d be all the further exacerbating these same exact problems there, as well.

    Let’s be clear this is all due to a decades-long pattern of Bay Area communities’ utter failure to plan smartly and cohesively in terms of housing and transit. Every community’s been me-me-me and this is the result we get. Let’s stop blaming the coping strategies such as tech shuttles and start attacking the real root of these problems.

  • AuntieTom

    If tech companies didn’t provide bus service from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, 40 percent of riders would move closer to work, a UC Berkeley study found.

  • Gezellig

    Well, maybe in theory they say they would, but practice is yet another thing. As many others have mentioned Silicon Valley is also facing a severe housing shortage crisis–where would all these people go? NIMBYs there consistently block multiunit housing and transit infrastructure so the housing just isn’t there.

    And you do realize if this even happened it’d mean all the more cars driving around Silicon Valley, all the more low-income people pushed out of Silicon Valley, etc.

    You’re fantasizing about shipping a problem away to go elsewhere, not fixing its root causes.

  • Suppose there was one ridiculously easy trick (like shutting down the shuttles) to significantly bring down rents in San Francisco. You’ll never guess what would happen next. People would flood in from surrounding areas, driving rents back up. Doh!

    You can’t fix this problem by attacking symbols. You need to change the fundamentals (increase the supply of housing).

  • Gezellig

    The power of the almighty NIMBY.

    Even Google can’t convince Mountain View to build enough housing and transit–MV by and large doesn’t want it.

    Recently a friend of mine relocated to the Bay Area to work at Google. As part of her relocation Google put her up for a couple months in housing…in east San Jose/Milpitas. When I asked her why they didn’t just put her in Mountain View she said she asked that too but Google told her they just couldn’t find any available housing there–it doesn’t exist. The Milpitas area was the closest they could find.

    So she now takes the Google shuttle from there.

    Of course if previous generations had actually followed through with this original plan and communities had smartly built housing and jobs along these transit lines, these shuttles wouldn’t need to exist in the first place:

    http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/sandboximages/RegionalRapidTransit_Dec2013revision.png

  • murphstahoe

    100 percent of riders think they could actually find a place to live closer to work, and that it would be cheaper.

    With this incorect knowledge, the question from the Berkeley Study is faked at best. When my rent got raised, I decided to move closer to work. That turned out to be impossible.

  • Jordan Klein

    And what about the 60% that won’t? (Also, I think the finding was closer to 30% said they’d move.)

  • A friend recently moved closer to work. He bought a single family fixer-upper in Palo Alto for well over $2 million. (After repeatedly getting outbid on other homes.) Doh!

    Until San Francisco gets a lot more expensive, high paid workers will continue to flock there, despite the commute. What some call insanely high prices, they call relatively affordable.

  • Andy Chow

    The key problem with the shuttle is really about the subsidy given by the companies to encourage the workers to compete for housing in San Francisco. If the cost is higher (like having to take Caltrain or own a car), some folks may reconsider where they want to live. Unlike public transportation, the subsidy can only be used by the employees (other commuters with the same commute pattern will have to pay on their own to ride Caltrain or drive).

    Part of the proliferation of those shuttles is the inability on part of the public agency to provide similar service. While Caltrain is the mainline service along the corridor, it doesn’t serve a large part of SF and a large part of the Silicon Valley. With each of the 3 counties having separate priorities, there’s no political leadership to push for additional bus transit along the corridor. There are many large companies located in SF but most don’t operate long distance shuttles because of the fact that there are political entities and leadership to ensure high level of transit is provided to SF from most locations in the Bay Area. The benefit is that some folks who work at McDonald’s in downtown SF can also take transit like their counterpart who works in a downtown law firm.

    I think that the Caltrain JPB should also be in the regional bus business to provide service along the I-280 corridor. Not only it would provide some relief for Caltrain, it would also provide some equity for those who don’t work for those companies. I am not suggesting a replacement of the private network but one or two routes mirroring the private network and not Caltrain.

  • p_chazz

    Are you going to make them move? Scratch a progressive and you’ll find an authoritarian.

  • murphstahoe

    I don’t have a problem with this per se, but a regional bus going from say, the Mission to Sand Hill Road would have to be heavily subsidized to attract ridership, and would only serve some pretty high salaried folks. How well would that go over with the Google Bus protestors?

  • 94103er

    And your point is…what? Do you understand that our transportation network is so crappy that if somehow all Peninsula employees moved to the Peninsula, they’d all still drive? Google and Facebook are out of parking spaces as it is, actually.

    Never mind the fact that in a typical household, you’ll find two working adults. Two adults who, chances are, found jobs/schools/etc in two different parts of the Bay Area.

    Don’t start with these ridiculous strawman arguments about the shuttles being polluting. If you think this is a net negative for the environment then why don’t you take over leadership of BAAQMD and tell us how you’d figure it all out.

  • rickbynight

    I would agree, except that how many cities are denser and cheaper in the US? And how many cities are less dense and more expensive per square foot? This isn’t a causal relationship per se, but supply of housing isn’t everything, as certain supply increases can actually increase demand. Housing costs are a rising problem for urban areas around the world; IMO the densification needs to be happening in all the cities that are failing to attract demand like SF is right now. Why has San Jose utterly failed at being a city?

  • jonobate

    I think the reason many transit advocates get so annoyed by the anti-tech shuttle activists is because they claim to be acting in the interests of Muni or Caltrain or the environment, yet are completely ignorant about the actual issues involved. It’s obvious that they have no real interest in improving transit, it’s just a convenient outlet for their fear over the changes that are happening to the city.

    On the specific points:

    1) Google have been trying to add housing on their campus for a while now, and have been prevented from doing so by Mountain View. The city wants a slice of the tech economy without contributing to the housing required to house the people who work at the tech companies.

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/place/article/Mountain-View-stuck-in-past-when-it-comes-to-5519893.php

    2) Caltrain are working on adding an extra car to their trains, using cars bought from Metrolink; but if they want to add any more cars after that they’ll need to lengthen their platforms, which is a major piece of work that they don’t have the funding for.

    3) Caltrain is cleaner per passenger than the tech shuttles, and will be cleaner still with electrification. But that’s irrelevant given that the people who currently take the tech shuttles would likely switch to driving if that option wasn’t available. Tech shuttles are cleaner per passenger than private cars, yet there seems to be some sort of blind spot that prevents otherwise sensible people from seeing the damage that cars cause to the environment, and the finger is pointed at the tech shuttles instead. Probably because cars are driven by “people like us”, and tech shuttles are ridden by “people like them”.

  • runonsentences

    1) It has accommodated more than its share of Bay Area growth and 2) a shockingly large number of people get murdered there.

  • p_chazz

    Actually I think the reason Silicon Valley sprung up where it did was largely happenstance; Hewlett’s famous garage, SRI, the Homebrew Computer Club and an abundance of cheap land on which to build fabrication plants formed the nexus of what would come later.

  • p_chazz

    Sububanites are very attached to a vision of their communities as semirural villages,.as many of them once were. They fight densification. because they are clinging to these rural vestiges that emotionally resonate with them.

  • rickbynight

    Except that San Jose has 4x lower density (amidst cries in SF for higher density at all costs!) and a 50% lower murder rate per capita than SF. And what an easy commute for south bay tech workers!

  • AuntieTom

    Who are you calling a progressive? 🙂 Anyway, i’m saying that we should improve public transit so they’ll be willing to take it or, if they don’t want to do that, then they can live closer to where they work. The health of the planet (and thus humans’ health) depends on cutting down gas fumes. Private buses are not the answer; public transit is.

  • AuntieTom

    Why don’t you?!

  • murphstahoe

    If we decided to switch to a dictatorship where our high holy dictator would rip up CEQA, eminent domain property at will, convert General Motors to a train and bus factory, the sorts of improvements that would move the needle would still take 10 years. That’s how badly we screwed ourselves.

  • jonobate

    A private bus pollutes just the same amount as a public bus. There’s no transportation or environmental reason to pit one against the other. You’re just using public transit and the environment as a excuse to attack something you don’t like for reasons unrelated to public transit and the environment.

    Many tech workers would love to live closer to where they work, but that’s just not possible. This map shows all areas you could live within a 45 min transit commute of Facebook HQ. There’s not a lot of housing in this area, and the housing that there is is unaffordable, even on a tech worker salary.

    http://www.mapnificent.net/bayarea/#/?lat0=37.48192594247844&lng0=-122.15013277856445&t0=45&lat=37.48004323253094&lng=-122.13861465452538&zoom=12

  • jonobate

    Agreed. It’s ridiculously difficult to get around the region if you’re not going to and from a BART/Caltrain station, and if you’re traveling off-peak then BART is your only convenient option.

    I would love to see Caltrain and BART combined into a 5-county regional transit agency. This agency should run both rail services in an integrated manner, and fill in the gaps where there is no rail by running express bus lines, primarily using the HOV/HOT lanes that are planned along all the Bay Area freeways. Bus stations would be every 2-3 miles at key freeway exits and rail stations. As these lanes are designed to be free-flowing all the time the buses would have a speed and reliability that approaches rail.

    BART have already proposed something similar on I-680 between Martinez and Warm Springs. Combine this with focused development around these bus stations and you might just be able to salvage some sustainable development out of Silicon Valley sprawl. For example, the North Bayshore plan suggests a bus station at US-101 and Shoreline would be successful: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/08/04/how-will-google-grow-north-bayshore-draft-plan.html?s=image_gallery

  • Erica_JS

    I’m not sure that’s true. Those corporate campuses have a small army of low paid kitchen workers, custodians, admins, etc. who are usually contract hires, not direct tech company employees, and live far from Silicon Valley by necessity, not choice. In some cases they can ride the corporate shuttles but have to pay to do so, despite being the ones who can least afford it.

  • Erica_JS

    There is even less affordable housing in Silicon Valley than there is in SF proper. So how on earth is someone who works in the kitchen at Google supposed to move closer to her work?

  • And what about their spouse, kids, and mother-in-law, who all live and work happily in the city without a car? They should all move to some suburban hell-hole? Ha ha. Yeah. No.

  • 94103er

    Proves my unspoken point that you’re really just trolling here and not looking for solutions. You have read the rebuttals and have plenty here on this site to direct you to the answers you need. Now, move along please.

  • 94103er

    San Jose regularly ranks on ‘safest cities’ lists. Also, how does a 180-square-mile city with tons of the US’s top performing companies ‘accommodate more than its share of Bay Area growth’ without getting dense at all?

  • AuntieTom

    Can’t Caltrain run trains more frequently?

  • AuntieTom

    The solution is for the tech companies to take the money they’re spending on private charter buses and put it into Muni instead of interfering with Muni service to city residents. They could also subsidize their employees’ transportation expenses and, if necessary, cut the outrageously long hours their employees work to allow for extra travel time. So why don’t you move along yourself?

  • runonsentences

    San Jose used to be one of the safer cities, but thanks to staffing issues, they’re above the national average and state averages for violent crime (a trend that has been going sharply upwards in the past 3-4 years, albeit still nowhere near SF or Oakland).

  • jonobate

    Not without a better train control system, or expanding their two-track system to four tracks. They are currently implementing a better train control system which will increase their frequency from 5 to 6 trains per hour during rush hour. Four-track segments are planned for the future, but again these need to be funded.

  • Andy Chow

    Caltrain already has a robust shuttle program that is based on public-private funding partnerships. Caltrain can replicate the feeder shuttle partnership model to long distance buses. Some of the large companies can provide funding to sponsor the shuttles for their workers, and public funds can pay the rest to ensure the service is available to everyone else.

  • murphstahoe

    That solution should apply to all companies and individuals (who are paid by said companies) and is called a tax increase. Start campaigning.

  • Ken

    So you say you want to “reduce induced demand for housing.” What you’re really saying is that your solution to SF’s housing crisis is to make SF a shittier place to live so less people want to move in. That does not sound like a good long-term plan for the city to me.

    The *only* way to solve a housing crisis is from the supply side: build more housing, high- medium- and low- end all together, and build it *fast*.

    But by all means keep harping on the “techies” scapegoat. Blaming “outsiders” for your problems is a time-tested technique, even if the irony of doing so in a “diverse, tolerant” city is completely lost on you.

  • Ken

    Apparently the shuttle busses are “inducing” techies to move to SF, “displacing” lower income residents.

    Because having a city center be well-connected to outlying areas via transit is apparently a bad thing for the city.

  • Aksel Kargård Olsen

    In the 1980s the upset was with building office space because it created commuting traffic associated with the new jobs and the demand for housing from the hordes of lawyers and financial analysts working there. Now a relatively small amount of residents do the reverse commute to the peninsula, equally bringing their salaries if not their jobs to the city (although there is plenty of tech here). Either way, job growth causes much upset. But it seems to me that the solution to evictions is not to cut transportation options for all the software engineers (and lawyers, for that matter, who typically make more). Transportation is a part of an open society. It is the evictions regulations that need adjustment, not the mode of transportation. So far the state legislators, however, have begged to differ, at least with respect to reforming the Ellis Act.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The Google Bus Ballyhoo is Back

|
At yesterday’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors again discussed stopping Tech Shuttles from using Muni bus stops, and voted to instruct SFMTA to study sending them to special hubs instead. Under this plan, tech workers, it is hoped, would use Muni buses to connect to these hubs. The resolution was supported by board […]

Muni Approves Upgrades for 28-19th Ave With Bus Bulbs, Fewer Stops

|
Muni’s 28-19th Avenue will get a speed boost from bus bulbs and stop consolidations approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors yesterday. The upgrades, part of the Muni Forward program, are expected to be constructed starting in the fall of 2016 and completed by 2018. On 19th Avenue, the 28 currently stops on nearly every block, and buses must pull […]

Bike Commute Options During the BART Strike

|
Big, green AC Transit buses (foreground) have extra bike capacity in their cargo bays. Other AC Transit buses, such as the one in the background of this photo, only have room for two bikes. Flickr photo: Racingmix When the BART strike begins on Monday morning, the best way to commute will likely be via the […]