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

A permit issued by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency  for the city's tech shuttle pilot program.

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.

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.

  • J Harrison

    As I walk up the 24th Street hill on my way home from work, I often see be 3-4 luxurious diesel buses per block with hardly a passenger inside, and in the middle is one electric Muni bus BURSTING with the rest of San Francisco. I can just see the Fiore illustration in my head.

    • R94110

      But the shuttles do not go where the Muni buses do, so there is overlap betweem the two classes of bus.

      That said, if the shuttles did not exist, presumably at least some of the riders would use Muni, making it even more “bursting”

      Or else drive and congest the streets, slowing down Muni

  • AllenPalmer

    I don’t understand why there is any question about continuing these bus services, they save the enviorment by cutting down on auto usage. The SF sups should be paying these companies to continue this service. The hi-tech companies just need to stop the service for a month or two and let everyone suffer with the added road traffic, the increased air pollution, the slowdown to city public bus travel due to more cars going through the city streets and there will a cry to please return the busses. These buses have done more to reduce the ill effects of single occupant auto travel then all the car-pool lanes together.

    • Robert


  • Jame

    There is no question that the shuttles encourage displacement. The only reason SF is on the list as a place for Peninsula/South Bay workers to live is because there is a “convenient” transit option. The buses run almost as often as Caltrain during the commute, and serve more neighborhoods than the 2 SF stations that are hard to get to from most of SF.

    It also highlights that there isn’t enough “urban-like” housing / amenities in “Silicon Valley.” Silicon Valley has pawned off its housing needs on to other cities while keeping jobs and their benefits.

    All of this is related to NIMBYism and our lack of political will to build more housing near job centers. Blaming tech is oversimplifying, it just highlights how broken the system is.

  • Sean

    The size of these buses are not compatible with SF street and intersection dimensions. Based on the buses I see, they could have half as many seats and still accommodate the individuals using them.


Ted Goldberg

Ted Goldberg is the morning editor for KQED News. His beat areas include San Francisco politics, the city's fire department and the Bay Area's refineries.

Prior to joining KQED in 2014, Ted worked at CBS News and WCBS AM in New York and Bay City News and KCBS Radio in San Francisco. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1998.

You can follow him at @TedrickG and reach him on email at tgoldberg@kqed.org

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor