Shuttle Bus operator Bauer's Intelligent Transportation, whose black, monolithic motor coaches carry employees from clients like Cisco, Zynga, and Electronic Arts, plans to add 30 vehicles to its already sizable fleet, expanding service despite questions over its ability to use Muni bus stops going forward.
The new Bauer buses will consist of 2016 and 2017 models supplied by a Montreal-based vendor, Bauer's tells the Business Times, an addition that enlarges their army of more than 200 existing buses at an undisclosed cost estimated to be in the multi-millions.
In a statement on the expansion, CEO Gary Bauer cited the "growth potential we see in employer-provided commuter transit programs and large event transportation." Yet Bauer's move comes at a difficult time for the company's working relationship with San Francisco. The MTA opted to revoke the company's permit to use Muni stops, based in part on a history of violations Bauer's buses have purportedly made. 48 complaints were lodged against the company's vehicles between August 2015 and January 15, a preponderance of the complaints made to the MTA against such shuttles in general.
“Bauer’s continued violations of these requirements has contributed to unacceptable traffic congestion” as well as “impeded safe and efficient Muni operations by blocking access to Muni stops,” SFMTA officials reportedly informed the company. Bauer's permit was also revoked in part due to its purported anti-union tactics: Some employees in January claimed that their failed effort to unionize stemmed from the company's active discouragement and bullying tactics. By contrast, employees of bus contractor Loop Transportation, which serves Facebook and others, successfully unionized in 2015.
Bauer's has appealed the MTA's decision to pull its permits, and spokesperson Lauren Jennings tells the Business Times that "“Bauer’s is permitted to use the stops while the appeal process is pending." A hearing on the matter originally slated for last week has been rescheduled to September 23. Until then, says Jennings "There have been no interruptions to Bauer’s commuter services."
There are further wrinkles in any plans for San Francisco commuter shuttles: Those include proposed changes to the current Muni stop system, in favor of a hub system that's been floated, and an uptick in tech employees opting to commute from San Francisco to the South Bay by car.