SF supes reject appeal for Google bus pilot

San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejected an appeal that would have subjected an 18-month pilot program allowing private commuter shuttles to use Muni bus stops to a review under the California Environment Quality Act.

The board voted 8-2 to reject the appeal filed by SEIU Local 1021, The League of Pissed Off Voters and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in February. Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos voted in favor of the environmental review.

The hearing, which lasted for over six hours at Tuesday’s board meeting, had testimony from members of the organization who filed the appeal and City residents who said the private commuter shuttles not only block and delay Muni buses, but have also affected rent increase and evictions in neighborhoods where commuter shuttles stop to pick up employees to tech companies.

Attorney Richard Druary said the program was the opposite of affirmative action:

“We’re busing wealthy, predominantly white adults into low-income neighborhoods, where they in turn displace low-income people.”

Druary, who represents the groups that filed the appeal, also said to the board that the impact of the shuttles can cause health impacts to residents because the commuter shuttles use diesel fuel.

Supervisor Campos was concerned about the lack of community input. He said how could the Planning Department, which granted the SFMTA an exemption to the environmental review, know the impacts of the community when there were no community meeting prior to the SFMTA board approving the 18-month pilot.

The SFMTA pilot program, approved by its board in January, would allow private commuter shuttles to use 200 Muni bus stops through a permitting process and paying the transit agency a $1 per stop.

Commuter shuttles who want to participate with the pilot would have to follow SFMTA rules such as having a GPS monitor to make sure shuttles are using the stops that they are permitted to use, yielding to Muni buses and shuttles cannot be idling at Muni bus stops.

SFMTA project manager Carli Paine said in January that the pilot would help the transit agency keep track of the private commuter shuttles and which Muni bus stops they are using.

Right now, the transit agency has no solid data on this information with the exception of some information from a few companies.

She also said commuter shuttles provide an alternative for tech employees who said they have gotten rid of their personal vehicle because of the shuttles provided for them.

The transit agency is working on which Muni stops would be available for commuter shuttles. Implementation of the program is still planned for July 1.