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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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Burt January 09 2014 at 1:40 AM

Everyone should drive to work on a given day. See what SF thinks of the buses after that.

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SRJimVal2 January 08 2014 at 11:25 PM

It really not logical, for SF to charge a company that is based on "logic"to use it's streets, especially when it is helping the environment and reducing traffic, by using their own shuttles. Someone, as usual just sees another excuse to try to make another buck and drive up prices further. I visited SF in October for 5 days and won't go back.

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pocohauntus6 January 08 2014 at 11:14 PM

There's a lotta land in and around Ozona, TX to build a tech campus on . . . that is, if the (expensive) gubment there can bring in utilities, guarantee to clear the freeway of 6' high roaming tumbleweed and lower the speed limit from 90 mph to a safer 65 mph.

Assuming they can do that, what's the draw?? How does that "big sky" with the windblown landscape compete with Silicon Valley??

Just sayin ....

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DOUG January 08 2014 at 11:09 PM

San Fransico might want to think that out. The tax money from those companies is huge. Filling up the government coffers as it were for the politicians to plunder. Hope all the business leaves that hole of a city. Let the assorted collection of welfare rats, drug addicts, freaks in general, just have full run of the place. Off course none of them pay taxes mind you.

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SciFimaniac January 08 2014 at 11:17 PM

did you actually READ the article or just do the republican-make an irrelevant statement : "The fees would pay for the administration of the program only, as state law only allows the fees to be used for that purpose."

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Steve January 08 2014 at 11:49 PM

Yes, but that has never impeded the government in any way. They will simply make sure the 'administration' expenses meet or exceed whatever they collect, then keep raising the fees as they find more and more expenses in their administration of the program!

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pocohauntus6 January 08 2014 at 11:07 PM

Isn't the property tax in the entire state of TX about 2.75%++ of assessed value vs 1% of assessed value in Cali (+ a fraction of any local bond measures and local services) totaling about 1.11% to 1.3% ?

This doesn't include "Mello Roos" tax which newer developments in Cali have (which doesn't apply to the very established cities we are discussing here).

What does a homeowner get in TX for these much higher property taxes that CA homeowners don't get?

Am I missing something here (except the known path of Tornado Alley)?

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karbear60 January 08 2014 at 10:24 PM

I know it will cost a ton of money, but you guys all have that, so go to a state that is friendly to business and no state tax and good schools etc. start looking at Texas and make it your home and get the heck out of SF. Bring your brilliant workforce with you and yes we have the space and homes to get it started, lets talk, ok? You are being punished for doing to right thing, you need to rethink your worth and start looking for another place to conduct your business, get out of SF now and leave miss Pelosi and her ideology as soon as possible. A brilliant mind is a bad thing to waste, and you are wasting your time and mind in SF.

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runswthscisors40 January 08 2014 at 10:22 PM

Extortion by the libbies will cause Google and others to relocate........they have the means, and the b**ls to do it............

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2 replies to runswthscisors40's comment
cinewest January 08 2014 at 10:32 PM

The google employees are crazy about living in SF. What are you talking about?

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SciFimaniac January 08 2014 at 11:18 PM

yeah THAT old conservative threat, they wont move when has ANY company done that lol

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Jeff January 08 2014 at 10:13 PM

The problem is that "the inmates are running the asylum," so to speak.

While I fully agree in THIS case it's a bunch of out-of-touch radical liberals who're objecting to companies that are doing the right thing both for their employees AND for the environment -- and keeping traffic DOWN in the process, as all those people would have to drive to work individually if they didn't have shuttle buses... The radical right gets just as ridiculous in areas where IT'S in control.

And sadly, these days, it seems primarily the majority of the people who vote are the radicals of one side or the other, so we don't end up with many common-sense moderates in office. That's 99% of the problem with today's Congress... a bunch of hot-headed, far-right Republicans, and a bunch of weenie, far-left Democrats, and very few common-sense moderates in the middle. It didn't USED TO BE that way... It only became that way in the past 20 years, or so. It's literally tearing our country apart, at both the national, state and local levels.

I wish what few moderates are left would grab the nuts on the right and left and KNOCK THEIR HEADS TOGETHER until they get some sense!

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moontrade January 08 2014 at 10:06 PM

We'd sure be happy to have Google/Apple, and their Silicon Valley friends come on down to Riverside County! Lake Elsinore, Temecula, or points in between - the weather's better, there's room to breathe fresh air, Light rail is coming, infrastructure is here, the natives aren't restless - at all - and we have more accessible airports, shipping and rail than the bay area, too! (not to mention the world-class quality of life to be had from Los Angeles to San Diego). Com'n down, Google!!

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1 reply to moontrade's comment
pocohauntus6 January 08 2014 at 11:30 PM

Light rail better get there pretty quickly. The I-15 and I-215 are the most congested freeways on the planet. Workers residing in the Inland Empire have the longest commutes in the state. Oh, did I mention that it is hotter than Hades there 5-6 months out of the year?

I've heard the argument that the commutes are "worth it" because they are presumably getting a comparable home there for half the price of coastal counties. But at what price? 1.5-4 hours per day on the road?

To each his/her own. Sorry, I just don't see these tech giant megacorps trying to "sell" the Inland empire to a highly-educated Gen Y workforce. It is what it is.

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runswthscisors40 January 08 2014 at 10:00 PM


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