A mid-year status report on San Francisco’s Commuter Shuttle Program contends most shuttle companies are behaving on the streets and are having a minimal impact on The City’s transportation network.
Since the launch of the current program in April 2016, data has shown a 91 percent decrease in the total number of shuttle vehicles operating on restricted streets each month and fewer conflicts with Muni vehicles after the transit agency refined the program when the original pilot program ended in January 2016.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency regulates the voluntary shuttle program, which currently includes 17 permitted shuttle companies authorized to use 80 Muni bus stops and 29 shuttle-only white zones in The City.
About 9,800 people board commuter shuttles every day — a 15 percent increase in ridership compared to the ridership during the pilot program.
Hub System Studied
Despite the report giving high marks on the current program, the Board of Supervisors earlier this year requested the transit agency to look into a hub system where shuttles would be designated to use specific locations or areas in The City.
The Commuter Hub Shuttle Study looked at four different possibilities including a single-hub plan where an off-street site would be used as a location where passengers would get picked up and dropped off.
In the study, the temporary Transbay Terminal was the only site identified to house the shuttles.
Other plans include putting a hub near San Francisco BART stations, a hub within a quarter-mile of freeways and a consolidated commuter shuttle network.
A consolidated network would only include up to 30 shuttle stops and removing approximately 230 parking space.
The study said that having a hub system would put Muni buses in less conflicts with shuttles at shared-Muni bus stops. Currently, 73 percent of the shuttle zones are shared with or close to Muni bus stops.
Though there would be fewer conflicts with Muni buses, the study said there would be a higher demand of shuttle passengers using Muni to get to a hub in either one of the four scenarios during the peak hours.
Another problem the study identified was the shift of shuttle riders changing to a different commute mode such as driving. The study reports that shuttle ridership would drop between 24 to 45 percent under a hub system and that shuttle riders would prefer to drive instead. A single-hub system would see the most significant impact of shuttle riders deciding to drive instead.
The study also concluded that each plan would require more parking control officers to enforce the shuttle program’s regulations.
Currently there are 15 parking control officers enforcing the current shuttle program. In order to keep up with the program’s level of compliance, the study said more parking control officers would be needed under any of the four hub scenarios.
The study said the single-hub system would require the most enforcement resources out of the four plans. Four enforcement officers would help guide the shuttle buses inside the temporary Transbay Terminal and more would be needed outside of the terminal at surrounding blocks and traffic areas of high shuttle bus activity.
Between August 2014, the start of the commuter shuttle pilot program, and August 2016, officers issued 2,267 citations.
Complaints continue to roll into the SF 311 system, offices from the Board of Supervisors and direct emails and phone calls to the transit agency’s staff about commuter shuttles.
The transit agency received 267 complaints between April 2016 and August 2016. Of the complaints received, one-third were about shuttles operating on an unauthorized street.
The SFMTA’s Board of Directors will discuss the mid-year report on the current program and the hub study at its regular Tuesday meeting at City Hall. Directors will not make any decisions about the hub system.
The current Commuter Shuttle Program will remain as is until March 31,2017, said transit agency spokesperson Paul Rose.