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SF to charge Google, others with employee shuttles

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco plans to start regulating employee shuttles for companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, charging a fee for those that use public bus stops and controlling where they load and unload.

The influx of private shuttle buses, which transport thousands of workers to their jobs, have created traffic problems on the city's narrow streets, blocking public bus stops during peak commute hours. They also have become a symbol of economic inequality for people concerned about the tech industry's impact on the area's rising housing costs.

Protesters have blocked buses in the city's Mission District, a popular tech employee neighborhood where the shuttles are prevalent. In Oakland, protesters broke the window of a Google shuttle bus.

Mayor Ed Lee and other city leaders joined Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and other companies Monday to announce a pilot program to charge a fee based on the number of stops each shuttle provider makes.

The city's public transportation system sees about 700,000 separate trips each weekday, so integrating the private employee shuttle system is a challenge.

"In recent years we've seen a wild wild West on our streets," said David Chiu, president of the city's Board of Supervisors. "This is an important first step in bringing some order and rules to our roads, as well as asking our companies to pay a fair share of what it costs the city to maintain our streets."

Mayor Lee says the shuttles are here to stay, and that they actually reduce gridlock and pollution by removing thousands of cars from roads each day.

"They've been helpful, in that but for them possibly we could see some 45,000 additional vehicle miles on our roadways or some 11,000 tons of carbon emissions on our streets," he said at a news conference Monday.

"I know that the more recent voices have been identifying these for purposes of political agendas and rhetoric, and I want to say that the commuter shuttles have been of benefit."

Under the pilot program proposed by the city, 200 of the city's 2,500 bus stops would be approved shuttle loading zones. The fees would pay for the administration of the program only, as state law only allows the fees to be used for that purpose.

Shuttle drivers would be ordered to yield to city buses, pulling to the front of bus stops to make room for other vehicles and avoiding steep and narrow city streets.

Google said in a statement that it is excited to work with the city to make transportation more efficient.

"We believe the pilot program is an important step in that direction," the statement said. "Google's Bay Area shuttles result in net annual savings of more than 20,000 metric tons of CO2. That's like taking about 4,000 cars off the road every day. "

The city's transportation board votes on the proposal Jan. 21.


Jason Dearen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

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redrdstr January 08 2014 at 8:33 AM

So this is like having to pay a fee for NOT producing carbon units?
"This is an important first step in bringing some order and rules to our roads, as well as asking our companies to pay a fair share of what it costs the city to maintain our streets."
Why should the solution cost anything if it's just a matter of organizing the movement of the shuttles. There are 4000 less vehicles using the streets, shouldn't it cost less to maintain them?
Government....... always on the prowl for a new way to make buck.

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kevinhh108 January 08 2014 at 1:15 PM

Government always finds a way to muck things up ! What are these d-bags protesting anyway? High employment and a growing economy ?

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Toni Spamoni January 08 2014 at 1:14 PM

Well said WildMtHoney888...only a progressive would continue the spin of inequality on "busses" that carry many passengers and therefore create fewer cars on the roads which is what the progressive environmentalists are always crying about.....now there's fewer cars with these busses but hey, SF has got to get moneys like Obama to support their nonproductive citizens and entitlements people... Did anyone ask who got the "protesters" to the blocking places??? and how they knew WHEN to be there etc? Progressive liberal dems at work again...don't know why all businesses don't leave CA which would leave the illegals, dems, etc left...Just what Mexico wants and which has been an underground movement since back before 1990...

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1 reply
sgard206 Toni Spamoni January 08 2014 at 1:40 PM

I'm a Democrat, and I view the "Progressives" as our brand of Tea Party. We have plenty here in Seattle. Progressives seem to base everything on emotion and little on reality, planning or long-term feasibility. In order to "level the playing field", they throw the people paying, the middle classes, under the proverbial bus. Moderates of both parties need to take back. Better yet, we should start a third party.

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2 replies
WildMtHoney888 sgard206 January 08 2014 at 1:57 PM

I view Progressives as just that Progressives. They are not a grass roots group that grew from the people. Not a tea party person myself. But progressives have been around for about 100 years.
Pushing a socialist agenda. Trying to change the constitution to do it. That is not even close to the tea party. We already have a third party Independents. You know the ones the left lied to. To win an election. I did not fall for it. But many in my party did. And boy do they get an ear full from me.

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BettyKirby sgard206 January 08 2014 at 6:39 PM

We already have a 3nd party, it's called the tea party! The party of and for the constitution!
Hello DEMS, stop listening to the LIb media, of course they condem them. The tea party is the party of the constitution! And we know the media hates our founding fathers( OLD WHITE MALES).

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intlhhgman January 08 2014 at 1:10 PM

They should all move out of Cali.

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MICHAEL January 08 2014 at 9:17 AM

the shuttles are very, very, helpful in terms of traffic, but i do NOT think they should be using public bus stops to make their stops. thats not right.

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4 replies
truckerh January 08 2014 at 1:07 PM

well they can always move to a taxing state somewhere in the south like TN or GA that want and support large companies with tax incentives and a lower cost of living for thier employies.

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1 reply
notorious6 truckerh January 08 2014 at 1:17 PM

That might be true but who would want to live in the south?

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1 reply
robinhquery notorious6 January 08 2014 at 1:32 PM

apparently all the millions of people who have moved here recently

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WildMtHoney888 January 08 2014 at 1:03 PM

In most states car pooling or using a bus would be smiled upon. Because each person on that bus could be driving a car adding way more to the traffic. But only a progressive could see income inequality by employees pooling and taking a bus. So their agenda is worth more than the environment. To the point they will protest it. Mark that as they ramble on about coal fracking ect.

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gstev75035 January 08 2014 at 1:03 PM

That's a Democrat for you. Bite the job providing industry that feeds you.

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skjuice January 08 2014 at 12:58 PM

Only in California... The uneducated trying to teach the unwilling the unknown...

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dmo9799 January 08 2014 at 12:53 PM

So the SF transportation authority is pissed that these companies are transporting these people to work for free and they want to fine them. That is the Democrats way of doing things!

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2 replies
dmcglynn0519 dmo9799 January 08 2014 at 1:03 PM

Really? That's your short-sighted response? Clearly you have never had to manage a city or transportation agency. Clearly you think it's OK for huge buses to park where they want, stop where they want, and drive where they want regardless of the other drivers or the residents or businesses of those areas. Clearly you have no experience negotiating agreements between vested interests or you would see that to create a win for the city, and a win for these large businesses needs to be discussed and coordinated. I'm sure you would feel differently if these buses were blocking your business or tearing up your streets.

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1 reply
WildMtHoney888 dmcglynn0519 January 08 2014 at 1:14 PM

Ok so where would all the cars park? Each person on that bus would drive. And clog the roads not to mention the carbon foot print. Which the left would rather walk than leave a carbon foot print. So according to you. Buses can park anywhere in CA. And I bet they can land airplanes on the highway too. And the transportation dept in CA is not equipped to handle traffic nor parking on city town streets? Who are you trying to kid. Other than yourself. Lets see they are getting a ride to work. Save to say the bus will park there. And in every state taxes are paid to maintain the roads. What are you admitting the money is not there?

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kish1113 dmo9799 January 08 2014 at 2:09 PM

This whole thing smacks of unions pushing this. Somehow in the end, we will read that unions will benefit from all of the money collected..

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