Corporate Shuttles Must "Pay" $1 Per Bus Stop

That'll be one dollar, Mr. Brin
The big news yesterday -- in every headline -- was that the ubiquitous corporate shuttle buses patrolling San Francisco will now have to "pay" to occupy Muni bus stops. But this isn't a fulfillment of the fever dreams of recent Google bus protesters, who, jokingly or not, called for a $1 billion subsidization of the city by our bus-deploying tech overlords.

That's not happening. It's hard to put into words how much that is not happening.

The plan, as it stands, is to demand bus stop-idling shuttles to disgorge $1 per bus stop squat. That's a jarringly piddling sum; Muni calculates it'll raise $1.5 million over the course of 18 months. (Doing some real easy math, that equates to an estimated 1 million bus stops occupied by corporate shuttles per year, which comes out to about 3,831 per weekday).

So, the real goal isn't to bring to fruition that longtime primal urge of vestiges of this city's left: Grab Downtown by the ankles and shake, with everything that tumbles out its pockets landing in a big vat of funds for Muni (and everything else). Think of this very nominal fee system as being akin to a library card. The way things are now, everyone can waltz into the library, despoil the place, and take as many books as they please without ever bothering to return them. If only card-holders can participate, however, then resources are protected.

And libraries aren't hoping to strike it rich on library card fees.

See Also: Those Tech Buses You Love to Hate Now Have to Pay to Use Muni Stops

Another analogy, if you like, is the oft-repeated refrain about star athletes: You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

That's the case with corporate shuttles. There's no stopping a 1 million bus stop-squatting armada at this point. And, even apart from this city's coddling of all things tech, and as galling as it is to witness San Francisco transformed into a bedroom community for The Valley, it's not exactly sound policy to crack down on tech buses in a manner that shunts riders into cars.

You can only hope to contain them (and, as astutely noted by others, state laws severely limit municipal entities from enriching themselves via fees on corporations. Alas.). So, whether the proposed corporate shuttle program is a mere sop to the tech barons or a workable compromise is all yet to be determined.

Yes, fewer than 10 percent of the city's 2,500 bus stops will be available for these private squatters -- but it's not exactly like problems were cropping up in the city's far-flung neighborhoods. The Muni-vs.-Tech Bus conflict exists in a relatively finite set of bus stops; forbidding shuttles from using facilities they never have and never would isn't solving a problem.

As such, just how the private vehicles will be mandated to defer to Muni at Muni's own stops is up in the air. To recapitulate: Where and how the corporate interlopers are permitted to interlope is a work in progress.

It's not so much a plan as a plan to have a plan. And it goes up for a vote by the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 21. Here's a bet that it'll pass.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose says the framework and logistics of the nascent plan won't be in place until early June. So, yes, the Wild Wild West situation that prompted this response stands to continue until then (if not beyond).

If nothing else, the proposal is a test of one's belief in city government. If you think Muni et al. can conceive, design, and execute a fair and workable plan in our tech-permeated city, then perhaps these are heady days.

And if that sounds fanciful, you can always hold out hope for draining $1 billion from a White Whale to be named later.

My Voice Nation Help

Came here for Robocop "I'd buy that for a dollar!" analogy — wasn't disappointed. 

Michael Harms
Michael Harms

Listen to Parker!!! ^ educate yourself. Actually u can back his facts by using a service called google

Michael Harms
Michael Harms

More to complain about! We sure our making an identity for ourselves as a city. Everything isn't perfect and when it isn't shit hits the fan here. Google haters should head to City Hall not bus stops

Mel Greene
Mel Greene

How will Google survive? Losing a dollar. Pathetic.

mblaircheney topcommenter

No one is mentioning the cost to the City to monitor the program. At a dollar per stop per day, we can only guess.

Let's get creative, not a tax but a fee for use. Like when someone wants to use the City parks for their own event... 'Outside Lands' for instance, money raised goes to the park service. This money would then go into improving the MTA infrastructures etc.

To say we need to underwrite the 'private' commute of the high tech groups is ludicrous. In their cushioned seats they access on board wi-fi, only to be gently informed when arriving at company headquarters. While those using legitimate 'public' transportation, that the stops are designed for, are in jammed to the hilt, late if at all... Muni vehicles.

Private bus lines are not allowed to compete with Muni, that is the law. Look at any historic pictures of downtown San Francisco, tons of private lines picking and choosing the most lucrative sites. Market Street Railway was the last one bought out by the City under emanate domain.

Imagine if you will, Geary Street or Van Ness Avenue littered with private buses using City bus stops (at $1 a stop) offering premium priced service to downtown. Catchy slogan on the side of each 'Get your ass off Muni, put your ass with us... we will get you to work on time, in comfort, or your money back... no homeless allowed'.

Don't laugh... they were once called 'Jitneys', and for twice the Muni fare they would barrel down Mission Street every morning. Once full they would speed you to your destination, drop you off, head back to ground central and do it all over again. Very profitable.

Let's rethink this whole issue in historic perspective. No way these techies are going to give up the 'plush' ride... let em help pay for the rest of us that make it possible.

sfhrod topcommenter

The city has once again taken it in the ass from the same tech companies it pampers. These fucking multibillion dollar companies need to start paying their fair share, real talk. 

Parker Day
Parker Day

It's $100,000 for the application and $1 per use. In California we have prop 218 which forbids the city to make a profit on this sort of program, they can only charge to cover the cost of the program. Enough with the sensationalism.

Félix Hernández-Rodríguez
Félix Hernández-Rodríguez

I haven't read this article, but isn't the point of corporate shuttles to facilitate techies to live in the City while working down south? If that's the case then the City would allegedly profit from having these people live here. So $1/bus stop seems to be just a formality rather than an actual profitable business.

Mel Greene
Mel Greene

WOW! A whole dollar? Google may have to shut down. Why bother?


There is currently a rule in place that doesn't allow the city to generate income from this program without this new tax going up for a vote. I think with time they will increase the fees, who knows how long it will take though. 


City of  San Francisco hands out hefty ticket's for breathing while in a 'bus zone', but not tech buses?  makes no sense.

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