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SF to charge Google, others with employee shuttles

China Google
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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fitzbeerman January 08 2014 at 6:36 AM

What will Califonia say when Google and the rest take their companies, their money and their jobs to another state?

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1 reply
wjleitold fitzbeerman January 08 2014 at 6:55 AM

"They're greedy, poor corporate citizens, not environmentally responsible"; any lie that creative politicians can invent to create a whole new class of taxes to support there give away - reelection scheme's. Another shakedown.

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supermax52 January 08 2014 at 6:34 AM

Sooooooo a form of public transportation is being taxed? How will this ease traffic congestion?
Gotta love Socialism.

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eulerckt January 08 2014 at 6:33 AM

So...high tech businesses are the cause of California's economic woes?
California has been slipping off the realm of reality for over 40 years...now the scapegoat is Google?
Time to look into the mirror beyond the shiny teeth.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
stevebewley January 08 2014 at 7:19 AM

Oh, yea, forgot. Doesn't providing private buses reduce the "carbon foot print," reduce traffic and provide convenience to the worker, while reducing the economic burden on the city by not having the city provide the transportation or doesn't that count for anything in SF?

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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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David..BRAAPP January 08 2014 at 6:27 AM

economic inequality, The starting line cry of a failing nation..

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1 reply
chauncy David..BRAAPP January 08 2014 at 6:40 AM

ok smart guy...all your clever slogans aside..tell us all why the city should not be reimbursed when private industry uses a taxpayer funded service?

if these companies want to run their own shuttles and choose not to put in their own stops, why should taxpayers fund it?

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2 replies
wjleitold chauncy January 08 2014 at 7:02 AM

Because the riders have already paid for the roads and will do so in the future, and mass transit was deemed a public good, substituting busses for even more polluting and crowding cars. The private shuttles relive the public system. What do stops cost, nearly nothing.

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maa2626 chauncy January 08 2014 at 7:13 AM

bus was bought, tax was paid
bus was registerered, fee was paid
fuel was bought , tax was paid
bus was serviced, tax was paid
tires were bought, tax was paid
driver drove bus, tax was paid
bus was inspected, tax was paid
bus has logos, tax was paid

it really is no different if a private car, or taxi is using a bus stand to drop off and pick up, just more people using.

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flbuyer1 January 08 2014 at 7:24 AM

LOL I love when Libs make fools of themselves

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twmetzger January 08 2014 at 5:50 AM

So these buses are a symbol of income inequality? When these companies decide to leave California for a friendlier environment, will that improve the problem of income inequality for the rest of California?

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1 reply
vguildrob twmetzger January 08 2014 at 6:09 AM

Like the film industry does all the time now, without a sideways look. Breaking Bad was written for a city in Cali. Greed pushed them to ABQ.

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perkins nursery January 08 2014 at 5:47 AM

Ok, so the politicians admit that the private busses are beneficial, but since they are part of private enterprise, are economically viable, reduce pollution and traffic, and ..., they need a special tax placed upon them. Don't they already pay a licensing fee, fuel tax, property tax, ...but they need to be taxed more since they work and government is broke(n)...

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2 replies
FRED perkins nursery January 08 2014 at 5:49 AM

Liberalism, is amusing. Too bad it hurts so many with their so called equality.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
jrb359 perkins nursery January 08 2014 at 6:12 AM

You've just explained how the Obama administration has been killing jobs with taxes, fees, and regulations all designed to increase the size of government, but NOT good for the working class!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
albatroll January 08 2014 at 5:42 AM

Like the old saying no good deed goes unpunished. These companies helping reduce traffic and pollution and the liberal left finds only evil.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
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