It was just last month that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted to make the tech shuttle pilot program permanent, thus formalizing the rules and regulations set forth to govern the commuter shuttles that roam the streets of San Francisco. The 18-month pilot program was set to expire at the end of January 2016, and the vote meant that regulations developed by the city agency would permanently go into place at that time. However, a group that has been dogging the program since its beginnings has filed an environmental appeal with the Board of Supervisors challenging the formalized rules, and unlike the previous challenge to the pilot program, this time around there is a real chance that the entire tech-shuttle plan could be impacted.
The difference between then and now? The makeup of the Board of Supervisors. With Aaron Peskin's election to the District 3 seat, it is generally agreed that the Board has moved away from the moderate bloc to the progressive bloc. This change in the balance of power on the Board could mean that any challenge to the commuter shuttle program would likely face a more skeptical majority.
The group spearheading the challenge to the program, The Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit, is joined by SEIU Local 1021 reports the Examiner.
The same group had previously filed a challenge of the commuter shuttle pilot program, but that appeal was rejected by the Supervisors in April of last year with Scott Wiener coming down especially hard against it.
At the time, Supervisor Wiener somewhat confusingly claimed the appeal targeted technology workers and suggested they were "not real San Franciscans."
Fast forward to today. In conversation with the Examiner, Supervisor Peskin spoke to his concerns regarding the shuttles.
“They’ve been too big for our streets, there are pollution concerns, and impacts to the public transportation system,” he explained. “I have an open mind, but like many San Franciscans I have concerns about them driving on our city streets.”
Under the finalized regulations originally set to take effect February 1, the fee paid by the tech companies to use Muni stops will increase slightly. State law limits the fee charged to shuttle-bus operators to the cost of running the SFMTA program. The slight fee increase is set to fund stepped up enforcement with the intention of ensuring that all shuttle buses comply with the formalized regulations — whatever those end up being.
Previously: Pilot Tech Shuttle Program Has Become Permanent