With the tech shuttle pilot program a permanent fixture on San Francisco streets since February of this year, and with a corresponding decrease in protests, we might expect the number of tech employees declining to ride the double-decker buses in favor of car commuting to have decreased. Not so, at least, according to the nonprofit Friends of Caltrain's Blog, at Facebook. The group reports that the social media giant saw a small uptick in the number of its employees that drive alone to work in the past few months.
Does that mean, as the headline of the Friends of Caltrain blog's piece suggests, that "San Francisco shuttle changes increase car traffic"? Well, not exactly. Let's look at what we do know. Facebook reports that the number of its employees driving to work alone went from 50 percent to 54 percent in recent months. Using a rounded number of 10,000 employees for the Menlo Park company, the blog suggests that 400 more Facebook employees are driving alone to work these days.
OK, so, approximately 400 more people are driving to work at Facebook these days. But, without knowing more information — like what city the drivers are commuting from or if the increase corresponds to an overall increase in hiring — it is impossible to know if this change has anything remotely to do with SF's shuttle regulations.
Streetsblog picked up the post and reached out to Facebook in an attempt to figure out just what exactly is going on, but only got a boilerplate press response noting that the company wants to "work with city and community leaders to tackle local priorities, including transportation, housing and the environment.”
Interestingly, Streetsblog did note that the data from Facebook — that 4 percent uptick that the Friends of Caltrain ascribe to SF's tech-shuttle regulations — came from January of this year. For those of you keeping score at home, that's the month prior to the regulations taking effect.
So, did San Francisco's regulations of tech-shuttles increase the number of Facebook cars on the road? Maybe, but maybe not — at this point there's just not enough available data to know.