Free ride ending for SF commuter shuttles

An 18-month pilot program to charge commuter shuttles in San Francisco was announced last week by city officials and tech companies — like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Genentech — who provide bus shuttles for their employees who live in The City.

The announcement comes as many residents have grown tired and angry seeing many of these commuter shuttles driving around The City and using Muni’s bus stops to pick up employees, which has led to Muni bus delays.

The pilot program, which will be led by the Municipal Transportation Agency, includes charging the shuttle provider or employer a daily fee based on the number of stops.

The fees will help pay the costs of the SFMTA administrating and enforcing the program. The estimated cost of the pilot is $1.5 million.

There will be 200 bus stops available for use out of the more than 2,500 Muni stops in the City for the commuter shuttles who apply for a permit with the SFMTA.

Shuttle providers will also need to follow guidelines such as yielding to Muni buses and pulling to the front of the bus stop. Providers must also provide data to the SFMTA to follow-up on complaints and enforcement issues.

Mayor Ed Lee said that while commuter shuttles provide environmental benefits such as keeping thousands of cars off the roads, there has not been much of a coordination effort with many of the shuttle providers and The City:

“We wanted to make a coordinated effort to capture more information, to work with companies whose employees are on these buses, to work with the shuttle companies themselves that are permitted by the CPUC to operate on our streets, work with them on a higher level of coordination.”

Currently, issues dealing with commuter shuttles are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to the SFMTA. The transit agency said this was not a sustainable way of managing the shuttles. The transit agency was also unsure which bus stops many of these shuttles were using.

The SFMTA board of directors will take up the pilot program at their Jan. 21 meeting.