SF kicks off commuter shuttle pilot

An 18-month pilot program that will help the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency regulate where commuter shuttles can pick-up and drop-off passengers for the first time launched on Friday.

The pilot program will allow commuter shuttles with permits from the SFMTA to use a limited number of Muni bus stops and white zones in The City for a fee of $3.55 for each stop they want to use.

During the pilot, the transit agency said it will evaluate whether or not sharing of certain Muni bus stops reduces conflicts and the type of enforcement needed to regulate the shuttles.

In July, the SFMTA board approved tripling the fees from $1 to $3.55 after fewer companies had applied for permits, which meant fewer stop requests, said the project’s manager Carli Paine.

Shuttles will have a green placard sticker from the SFMTA with a permit ID number to help identify companies who are taking part in the pilot and allowed to use specific Muni bus stops and white zones approved by the SFMTA.

The designated network of stops so far includes 93 bus stops and 12 white zones as of July 29 (full PDF list), but will most likely increase according to the SFMTA. More stop requests are currently going through a public hearing process.

Muni bus stop shelters will also have a green signage indicating that the stop is part of pilot program.

Enforcement will play a key role in regulating the pilot program. Parking control officers will issue citations to shuttles with or without permits who use Muni bus stops not apart of the pilot program.

Officers will also issues citations to shuttle companies using the network of Muni bus stops but have no permit from the transit agency.

A dedicated set of officers will patrol the network of Muni bus stops, but all officers will be able to issue citations to shuttles, said Paine.

Shuttles must also abide by other SFMTA regulations including pulling in as far forward to curb so that so bike lanes, crosswalks and traffic lanes are not blocked. Idling at bus stops is not allowed either.

The SFMTA wants feedback from the public if they see shuttles using Muni stops outside of the network or unsafe driving behavior by using the San Francisco 311 form online.

Critics of the pilot program still have pending lawsuit to halt the program. The lawsuit was against The City, tech companies that included Apple and Google and private shuttle companies.

The lawsuit states that the pilot program violated the California Vehicle Code which prohibits the use of private vehicles using Muni bus stops. It also stated that the program should have gone through an environmental review before approval by the SFMTA.

The total of pilot program is $3.6 million. Fees collected from the shuttle companies will pay for the cost of the program.