They’re a hot-button political issue among San Francisco’s famously progressive residents, but the results of a newly-released survey reveal that the majority of the city’s residents actually support the private commuter buses that shuttle tech company workers to and from their Silicon Valley jobs.
The Bay Area Council, the self-described “voice of Bay Area business,” conducted a poll of 500 likely San Francisco voters to gauge their opinions of the controversial tech shuttles. Among the survey’s findings:
- 57 percent have a favorable view of the shuttles, compared to just 18 percent who said they view them unfavorably.
- 79 percent said that tech industry growth has been good for the Bay Area.
- 72 percent said they were in favor of a plan to charge shuttles on a cost-recovery basis to use public MUNI bus stops.
- 67 percent said they support allowing tech shuttles to use a limited number of bus stops, while 70 percent said they support letting the shuttles operate if they adhere to regulatory measures laid out in a city-approved pilot program.
- 84 percent said the shuttles get cars off the streets.
- 81 percent said the shuttles encourage commuters to eschew automobiles in favor of more environmentally sound transportation.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) estimates the tech shuttles result in 327,000 fewer single-passenger car trips and slash 11,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.
Still, many of the city’s more progressive residents continue to vehemently oppose the shuttles as they currently operate. There have been numerous protests against the buses, including some in which demonstrators physically blocked the vehicles from moving.
Critics decry the privatization of public space and claim the tech shuttles exacerbate economic inequality by driving up rental prices near stops. In a city where rental costs are the highest in the nation– the average one-bedroom rents for about $3,000 a month in the City by the Bay, rents have increased by as much as an additional 20 percent along Google bus routes, according to the activist group Eviction Free San Francisco.
The tech shuttles “embrace social stratification and alienation,” argued Michael Barnes, the former mayor of the neighboring suburb of Brisbane, in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.
Other city residents say they would support the tech shuttles if they were open to all or if they paid their “fair share” to use MUNI stops.
The debate continues, as does the number of Silicon Valley corporations dispatching shuttle buses to and from San Francisco.