Sunday, September 27, 2020
News + Politics The Google bus program is in trouble

The Google bus program is in trouble

New political reality on the board means the days of giving everything away to the tech industry may be over (for now)


The Google bus program is in a bit of trouble. And that reflects a significant new dynamic on the Board of Supervisors.

Communities have complained about the tech shuttles for years -- and now the supes may finally be listening
Communities have complained about the tech shuttles for years — and now the supes may finally be listening

The supes were supposed to vote today on an appeal of the city’s decision that a permanent tech-shuttle program needs no environmental review. That’s a complex legal issue, but it involves a huge set of political questions: Did the city get the best deal possible from the tech and shuttle companies? Are the buses causing displacement, and should that be part of the mitigation? Are there too many buses, and is the city regulating them tightly enough?

Instead, Sups. David Campos and Norman Yee moved to continue the appeal for two weeks, so that all the stakeholders can have a chance to meet and see if they can work something out.

These sorts of continuances are pretty standard, and it’s unusual for anyone to oppose a request for extra time to negotiate an appeal.

But in this case, Sup. Scott Wiener announced that he would not support a continuance. “I think we have all the information that we need to decide this today,” he said. He said he would try to keep an open mind, but based on the documents he had seen, “I don’t see a CEQA question here.”

He went further, saying he was a strong supporter of the tech shuttles, that they took cars off the road, and that critics of the shuttle program should stop complaining about the tech buses driving up housing costs. “Let’s address the housing crisis with affordable housing instead of scapegoating people who are trying to get to work.”

There’s a lot of evidence that the tech shuttles do, indeed, drive up housing costs. Even so, Campos noted that “none of us here are saying the shuttles should go away.” The question, as a pilot program becomes permanent, is whether there are strong enough regulations, whether the shuttle operators are paying their fair share to use Muni stops, and whether the plan that the Municipal Transportation Agency has put forward is the right one.

Sup. Eric Mar said that he wants to see the city “mitigate the horrible impacts of too many shuttles.”

There were clearly six votes for a continuance; in fact, there were nine, with only Wiener and Sup. Katy Tang opposed. But the long debate over what could have been a simple routine motion showed that at least six of the board members are not happy with the city’s long-term plan.

Even Wiener was candid: “Let’s acknowledge that the majority of this board opposes the shuttle program,” he said.

I don’t think a majority of the board opposes the concept of a shuttle program, but it seems that a majority of this board – as opposed to the last board – is at least willing to suggest that there need to be strong regulations and mitigations.

The debate suggests that the addition of Aaron Peskin – who has always been a strong voice for regulations and environmental mitigation – and the upcoming November elections, and the weakening position of Mayor Lee, have combined to create a dramatic shift in how much the once-sacred tech industry will be able to get away with.

In 2016, if the Google buses want to operate in the city, they’ll have to follow some real rules. I suspect this means Airbnb will be facing a similar dynamic. The days of tech-at-all costs are coming to an end. For now.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. The bus in not the issue, it’s a proxy at best. These idiots that oppose the shuttles are prejudiced against techies moving and living in SF. This is supposed to be a progressive community. In reality we have a very prejudiced vocal minority. That’s right they are prejudiced, even worse than Trump. It’s not just Google. Genentech has shuttles which take working people from SF to South San Francisco. Many of these people take MUNI and BART and also bicycles to the pickup points. Most of the people are not wealthy. Most make less than BART employees with a GED education. So these freaks pick on Google because it would be less sexy to attack people that manufacture anti-cancer and anti-Alzheimer miracle drugs. Genetech has reduced the shuttle buses, likely because of these few bums that can’t stand to see a group of people getting a small perk. So idiots: stop the buses. This will lead to more cars on the road. Brilliant.

  2. You miss my point. I’m saying that they don’t care where their employees live; that is the indifference I referred to. If, next year, Google found that most of their employees had moved to Oakland, they would swing the weight of their commuter program in that direction. I’m saying that Google (and other companies like them) have no directive to “ruin” San Francisco or any other city in particular. Google built their entire system based on the needs of existing employees, not as a recruiting tool. How do I know? I worked there when it came into existence.

  3. “If it’s so imposing and a ‘drag’, then why do so many people do it?”

    I don’t know. Why don’t you ask some of them? Do you think their reasons are different than those people who commute long distances by car? Why would you think that?

    “What does make sense is that tens of thousands of people commuting large distances wreaks havoc on traffic.”

    it’s ~8,000 people. Consider for a moment that maybe the bigger traffic problem is the tens of thousands of people driving in cars by themselves.

    “If you think an hour on the bus is bad, I suggest trying to the same in a car – like everyone else.”

    Jesus. Please, re-read what I wrote. Commuting in a car is shitty. Commuting on Caltrain is shitty. Commuting in a shuttle bus is shitty. The point is not that they are equally shitty — they aren’t. A shuttle is a very comfortable option, compared to most!

    The very innocuous point that shouldn’t provoke such vitriol from anyone with a pulse is this: nobody thinks that sitting on 101 for 3 hours is a better use of their time than sitting at dinner with their family and friends.

    “It depends on which way you’ve been brain washed.”

    Must the conversation always devolve into this garbage? People can’t sincerely believe something different than what you believe without being a thoughtless automaton?

  4. My argument is that public transportation systems that are considered a baseline in most urban areas around the globe would be considered a “luxury” by bay area standards even though there is nothing luxury, exclusive, or elite about having a public transportation system on the same level as those that the rest of the world enjoys.

    I have taken Bart or Muni everyday for almost a decade, and I don’t dream of excluding anyone from my commute. I want an extensive, accessible, public transport system that includes everyone! That you consider excluding the general public from your commute as a good thing says a lot about your character.

  5. Wrong, companies are not indifferent. Not at all.

    They are very obviously competing for talent on all levels. Shuttles, satellite offices, flex hours, all sorts of office amenities etc.

    So, if the workers for a valley company want to live in SF these companies can and do enable that. And that is a choice.

  6. The Zillow study was widely distributed and hard to argue with.

    Sure, you can critique any study.

    Are you people arguing that a proliferation of high paying tech jobs is not causing an increase in housing costs? I would like to see that argument.

    You must be avoiding a lot of national news. Ever heard of ‘wage stagnation’?

    Look, housing prices are insane because of bidding wars among the well to do. And you can’t hide the fact that the majority of new well to doers here are from the tech industry. You can’t hide – the media and you people talk about that every day.

  7. But this is not Switzerland. Actually very far from it so it’s a poor misguided analogy. It only exposes your expectations for a high, exclusive standard of living.

    The comparisons you should be making are to MUNI, Caltrain, ac transit etc etc. and the result of the comparison is ultra clear. Even just excluding the general public from your commute is a hug privilege that the majority of people can only dream of.

    It’s the same argument that a six figure salary is not much in the Bay. Depends on who you ask …

  8. If it’s so imposing and a ‘drag’, then why do so many people do it? Because they love to live in SF? Because they are saving a few hundred on rent each month?

    These arguments make no sense.

    What does make sense is that tens of thousands of people commuting large distances wreaks havoc on traffic. And that providing convenience to areas which might have been inconvenient, increases the influx of new people now willing to put up with that mitigated inconvenience. Both of these issues affect millions of other people …

    If you think an hour on the bus is bad, I suggest trying to the same in a car – like everyone else.

    And commuting on a cushy bus with wifi and a bathroom is hardly reason to complain. Oddly, I’ve heard the opposite argument many times: that commuting on a tech bus is great because people can extend (or decrease) their actual work hours. It depends on which way you’ve been brain washed.

  9. I assumed they lived in SF because they 1) can 2) existing in Mountain View feels like living on the set of a board game.

  10. It would seem like we would be able to advance to a post-regulation world in which SFMTA can be expected to at least ticket buses for stopping in bus stops or double parking, the same as they would you or I, but not sure if that is in the cards or not.

  11. No, private cars don’t pay anywhere near their fair share, but that doesn’t mean the tech shuttles shouldn’t pay their fair share (Today on BBC Radio 4 is currently doing a story on how Google and other tech companies aren’t paying their fair share of taxes in England).

  12. Most San Franciscans don’t want any new housing built either, they’d rather people commute from Tracy and Brentwood to their jobs here. They also think climate change is a big problem and we need to do something about carbon emissions. Cognitive dissonance is an epidemic here.

  13. Honestly, I’m not sure about the ratio of newcomers to long-term residents. But I’m not sure any of that should matter, either. I see a pretty wide mix of people on the shuttle who have both lived in SF and recently moved here; I’ve seen recent college grads, interns, and experienced veterans in their 40s with families. Who “deserves” to stay, in your book? Also, what defines “recently”—2 months seems obvious enough but how about 2 years? 5 years? There are those who were born and raised here that would call me a relative newcomer after having lived here for 15 years. The point is that basing a value system on length of time is flawed. The truth is that no one has any right to question anyone else’s “commitment” to a city. Time tells all. Those who aren’t committed simply don’t stay.

    As for whether or not companies “rely” on SF as a bedroom community, that’s just absurd. The companies are indifferent. They don’t care where their employees live and they are certainly not “sending” anyone to SF, either implicitly or explicitly; their interests lie in making sure that their employees can get to and from work. I was mentioning elsewhere that the shuttles don’t just serve SF (though SF certainly represents a majority); they serve many points East, South, and North, usually aligned with public transit (near BART stations, etc.). All anyone wants to talk about is SF but are you suggesting that they are “relying” on Pleasanton? Danville? Burlingame? Oakland? Marin? Because these are just a sampling of the non-SF shuttle destinations. The reason SF represents a majority? People either already live in SF or want to. And if you’re slamming people for wanting to live in SF, that is a different story altogether. That’s just a preference for workers tied to a particular industry to leave “your” town.

  14. I can’t deny your experience, but I can wonder about whether it reflects the bigger picture. Shuttle buses do make it much easier for Silicon Valley companies to rely on SF as a bedroom community. And I don’t doubt that in a tight market, this has an impact on housing costs. I also suspect that many of the shuttle bus riders are, unlike you, relative newcomers. That’s not wrong, but when it creates stresses in the housing market, it is a problem.

  15. The fact that he completely missed your point when referencing Switzerland’s well-designed public transit system should tell you all you need to know about his narrow/myopic point of view.

  16. I misunderstood what you were saying. Because I am actually on your side. I agree that shuttle programs do not cause people to move to a given area. And I agree that people live in SF because they want to. I also think that no one has the right to live in a city and then pull up the ladder behind them. One thing our society has is freedom of movement and people who move to an area because they have a job there ought to be allowed to move there. The idea that Americans can’t move from one city to another because it’s “imposing” on the residents there is absurd. Plus how do they actually know that ALL of the workers living in SF came from somewhere else. I bet plenty of locals who graduated from UC and Standford are working in Silicon Valley. If gentrification causes some people to lose out, then we as a society need to fix that through subsidized housing programs, not by turning the workers or the landlords into villains. Employer shuttle programs remove cars from the road and are socially responsible as far as I am concerned. If tweaks to the existing programs need to be made because buses are too big or some such other thing, then that should be analyzed and taken into account. My point about funding a study is that the NIMBYs seem to be speculating about this issue without any actual facts.

  17. That will happen when more people invest themselves in the sector and there are more qualified professionals to do the work. The high salaries and perks used to lure employees from one job to another are a direct result of there not being enough talent (or talent that meets a certain quality bar) to outstrip demand. It’s not even close. Even with the “gold rush” mentality fueling an influx of people, the demand still isn’t being met. That should tell you something.

    Ironically, if you are not in tech and you want to see tech “royalty” behavior go away, the answer is to go into tech.

  18. No one promised anyone anything. The companies in question got off their asses and provided for their employees. You are missing the entire point. The point is:

    1. Given a choice, no one wants to commute
    2. It’s nice that the shuttles exist but that isn’t why people accept jobs at a given company
    3. People commuted to the south bay from SF LONG before there were any shuttles; they just used cars and Caltrain

    4. If the shuttles go away, tech company employees will resume doing what they did before the shuttles were an option

    Addendum: if bathroom access and wi-fi is your idea of luxury, then you’re nuts. I will concede that the bathroom is a convenience but the wi-fi is there to squeeze another hour of work out of employees while they’re on their way in to the office.

  19. People want to live in SF. Last i heard, people get to choose where they want to live. I’m truly sorry that it’s become unaffordable to many but that isn’t reason enough to tell someone that happens to have enough money that they can’t live there.

  20. What about it doesn’t make sense? What I am saying is pretty straightforward: that people ALREADY live in areas like Pleasanton, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco etc. and THAT is why the Google shuttle program covers that ground. The flawed logic I am disputing is that shuttle programs cause people to move to a given area. That is absurd. If that were true, people would be moving to Pleasanton (strictly as an example) BECAUSE the shuttles serve it. That isn’t happening. People live in SF (or already do) because they want to, pure and simple. It has little-to-nothing to do with whether or not they are serviced by shuttles. Sorry to burst your progressive disaster porn image of techies being bused in by companies to “ruin” your city but that simply isn’t true.

  21. Agreed. Maybe a half dozen pick up points throughout the city located within easy access of freeway entrances; EG, AC Transit, SamTrans; keep the monsters out of the neighborhoods.

  22. Fewer, more concentrated stops along major streets (Market, Embarcadero, Ocean, Van Ness) plus buses that serve more than one employer (to ensure they are full) always seemed like a better use of time, space & busses.

  23. What are your qualifications to say if a 4 year transit study is flawed? The Board voted for the continuance because SEIU 1021 is the big bully in the room and they are holding the shuttle riders hostage in an effort to unionize service workers at tech campuses. This is ugly backroom politics and has nothing to do with good public policy.

  24. Sorry wrong again. Caltrain, the only public transit option between SF and the South Bay, submitted a letter of support for the shuttles, stating that they are currently “operating the maximum amount of service that our infrastructure will support” …”employer shuttles…keep millions of single passenger vehicles off our roads…and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” the 28% might want to take public transit, but THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSIT FOR THEM TO TAKE and no lost fares to worry about.

  25. Nonsense. Santa Clara County has far outperformed San Francisco in their RHNA obligations for many years. San Francisco has one of the biggest housing/jobs imbalances in the country. Hundreds of thousands of people commute great distances to jobs in this city because we don’t build enough housing. Its FREAKIN HILARIOUS that we point fingers and yell at a few thousand who commute the other way and blame them for all that is wrong in the City. HILARIOUS.

  26. “ambitious Korean girl” – you’re a racist, sexist asshole describing a 38 year old woman born in New York City who is running for state senate now.

    No city employees are going to be furloughed

    What should be beefed up is public transportation anyone can take (and even in the flawed SFMTA study 28% of riders said they would take public transit if they didn’t have the shuttles).

  27. The SFMTA board rubber stamped the original pilot and then rubber stamped making the program permanent (even though they didn’t have it finalized including how much will be charged).

    Nine of 11 supervisors (including one who worked as a VC) voted for the delay because they realize the SFMTA program is flawed.

    The protests haven’t stopped. They have just stopped blocking the buses (and not because they are working well) and focused on evictions, Airbnb and other tactics.

    You criticize the papers on the shuttles and displacement, but the SFMTA report was flawed.

  28. First of all, it was a survey of 550 people out of 8,000 or more who use the shuttles

    And you all always leave out the 28% which said they would use public transit if they didn’t have the shuttle.

    You’d think sfmta would study the impact of those lost fares

  29. Uh, actually I think my desire for cheap ubiqitous public transportation for all is an environmentalist liberal populist thing.

  30. Yup it’s really horrifying the tech commuter shuttles can expand as we have more growth in the City. Density protects the environment, bay water quality, and local climate change. Doesn’t a beefed up transit infrastructure = equal social justice and social equity??? Besides obviously reducing car usage in a dense population center?

  31. Great way to furlow City Employees Tim until negotiations are over. The Left of Center Supes had months to figure this out how to bleed the tech companies for more money. Why wait to the last minute????? It was very disengeniuous to the Tech employees who took time off from work in the South Bay to add their public comment against the appeal. Now the Tech buses are unenforceable until an agreement is reached. So now they will run a muck! So Tim and Sue Vaughn wanted more regulation but they ended up with less between this coming Sunday at midnight until Jane Kim can figure what the hell she wants in concessions from the Tech companies. Rookie move folks for an ambitious Korean girl who desires to be Senator someday. She needs to do her homework how Obama has been so successful getting people to meet half way instead of making the stake holders look bad and incompetent in the public eye. Tim Redmond displays his unintelligence when it comes to the art of negotiation and diplomacy getting more followers on his side of the equation.

  32. I suppose that’s true: people who drive don’t have to deal with as many cars on the road that there would be otherwise.

    Bus stops are a public space. The job of the government is to figure out how to use that space for the public good. For now, it seems like allowing bus shuttles of private employers to use the space is a good use for them.

  33. That doesn’t male sense. If people didn’t live in these other areas, Google buses wouldn’t serve them. Sounds to me like there is an awful lot of speculation on this issue. Perhaps the County and the Tech industry should fund a study on exactly who is living where and what the transportation and housing needs are.

  34. It shouldn’t be a controversial statement to say that a 3 hour commute is a drag for anyone, regardless of the mode of transportation.

    And yet here we are.

  35. The Google buses are definitely not a luxury. They are convenient only because options are extremely limited. No one would choose to take them if there was any other option.

    You know what would be a luxury? A Swiss style train system covering the bay area! Now that would be a luxury!

  36. Union City & Fremont: $600-$1100
    Milpitas: $800-$1200

    The entire Bay Area is ridiculously expensive. If you look hard enough in SF, you can find a $1000 shared room to rent in SF, and be pretty much guaranteed to be paying roughly $1000 5 years from now. Due to rent control, it is actually cheaper in the long run to rent in SF than pretty much anywhere else within commute range of Silicon Valley!

    If Cupertino and Mountain View built lots of housing, so that it cost say Seattle rents of $400-$900 to live there, then the demand for peninsula commuters to live in SF would disappear.

    The prevalence of the google buses is a poor bandaid to cover:
    1) High rents in the peninsula because of their refusal to build any residential.
    2) Over-capacity public transportation that couldn’t transport any more people from SF to the South-bay than it already handles.

    Fix those two things and then the google buses disappear, until then they (or something very similar to them) are here to stay.

  37. private buses with wifi, fewer stops, bathrooms, etc vs. public buses… which one would most people prefer? Who ever promised these workers they could live near their jobs… most people have to start out in jobs that require commutes… it’s called LIFE.

  38. agree… silly that some say they HAVE to live in SF because they can’t find housing elsewhere. What planet are they from? And of course, EVERYONE wants to live here…but a want is not a “need” and not an excuse to impose on a city/others for personal wishes.

  39. Voltairesmistress isn’t “whining.” She’s pointing out that the whole concept of “luxury” buses is idiotic and that people aren’t riding them for fun or commuting because they want to. They’re simply doing it to earn a living.

  40. One thing that no one ever mentions in these debates is that most tech company shuttles operate all over the bay area, not only in SF. In fact, all three of the areas you mention are served by Google. It still doesn’t make people want to move there. What that should tell you is that people want to live in SF and that they will continue to do so.

  41. really, you are whining about a private luxury bus? Try commuting on public transportation as many have to do, just to get to their minimum wage jobs to feed families and pay high health costs. Whining about the difficulty of taking a private bus underscores how out of touch you are.

  42. I love when Tim complains about companies breaking the law. But people defecating on sidewalks, shooting up , dealing drugs, stealing bikes… Thats all ok in the progressive mind.

  43. By Friday it will be “strong evidence that hardly anyone even questions”.

    The shuttles probably do increase property costs, just as any transportation improvement does. But to claim that the Anti Eviction Mapping Project has quantified the effect of the 8,000 bus riders on housing stock is laughable. One person wrote a paper comparing the cost of housing near a (Muni) bus stop vs the cost further from a bus stop. Turns out that being closer to a bus stop wins. Give that person an “A” for effort.

    Nobody tried to figure out how many of the 8,000 lived here before the shuttles, how many would find alternative ways to get to Mountain View or how many would just get another high tech job in the city….providing an incentive for a landlord to evict some non profit so that they could convert to tech….giving Tim Redmond even more to whine about.

  44. From the actual legislation passed by the SFMTA Board of Directors on November 17, 2015, page 14:

    The Director is authorized to establish up to 200 Designated Stops for the purposes of this pilot program. The Director may establish additional Designated Stops following a public hearing.

  45. Does it actually back them into a corner though? If the pilot expires without a permanent program in place don’t we just go back to the pre-regulation world where the SFMTA turned a blind eye to the whole thing?

  46. Instead, Sups. David Campos and Norman Yee moved to continue the appeal for two weeks, so that all the stakeholders can have a chance to meet and see if they can work something out.

    These sorts of continuances are pretty standard, and it’s unusual for anyone to oppose a request for extra time to negotiate an appeal.

    The Pilot Program expires next week, and the stricter regulations of the permanent program were supposed to kick in. A two-week continuance at this point is not a routine parliamentary gesture. It’s an obvious political maneuver which attempts to back tech companies into a corner without having to vote against a program which a majority of San Franciscans approve of.

    If Campos hasn’t studied this issue in the years and years that it’s been an issue in the city, two weeks won’t help.

  47. I just took the time to read this theses and the methodology is 3rd grade at best. The author picked 5 locations that had stops, drew a half mile circle around them, and collected some anecdotal data on rent increases. Based upon this spurious analysis she makes the most common mistake in data analysis; confusing correlation with causation. She did not conduct a single control sample! the most rudimentary requirement of a study like this! Rents are going up all across the bay area, in neighborhoods not served by shuttles!, she did not even attempt to study these areas because its obvious she has a bias and wants to use this bogus study to validate it. Its bunk research and proves nothing.

  48. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project says that 69% of no-fault evictions happen near shuttle stops, but their definition of ‘near shuttle stops’ covers half the city. It’s meaningless:

  49. I think it’s likelier that some of the wealthiest companies on Earth who have paid exorbitant sums to recruit and retain their workers would just change from buses to vans (which is how the whole shuttle program started), or reimburse employees for taking Lyft Line and Uber Pool.

  50. The SF Tenant’s Union picked the shuttle stops, even. I was surprised that such a thesis could be considered credible and unbiased by Cal faculty.

  51. We don’t know what the housing plans are for increased number of employees at the companies in the South Bay and Silicon Valley

    That is your local government’s job, and residents should enable their local government to provide more housing for newcomers, not impede them.

    For now the “housing plans” seem to be “ignore it and it will go away.”

  52. The tech buses don’t affect most people. The only thing offensive about the tech buses is that they provide better transit service than the Bay Area local governments are able to provide. If you want to get angry at someone, get angry at your local DOT.

  53. Concerns:
    1) The shuttle companies got a “handshake” agreement to violate the law;
    2) The companies that provide the shuttles free to employees get tax write offs for subsidizing the demographic transformation of SF;
    3) We have no idea what the expansion plans are, but we do know that: a) the tech companies in the Silicon Valley are vastly expanding; b) and that the permanent commuter shuttle program has NO LIMITS in terms of the number of shuttles that can receive placards, the number of companies that can get permits to operate shuttles with placards, or the number of stops that can be shared with Muni stops; and,
    4) We don’t know what the housing plans are for increased number of employees at the companies in the South Bay and Silicon Valley.

  54. Agreed… I don’t know if shuttle stops affect rental prices or not, but that is a truly embarrassing piece of research. Is that the standard to receive a Masters degree from UC Berkeley?

    A better (and not terribly difficult) analysis would be to calculate price change for any property that was relisted along with its distance to the nearest shuttle stop (counting all of them, not just 5 cherry-picked ones) and see if there’s a correlation.

  55. SFMTA surveyed shuttle riders. If the shuttles went away tomorrow, 47% would drive alone to the valley. 25% would look for another tech job in san Francisco, only 5% would move south. These people are SAN FRANCISCANS who just happen to work outside the city.

  56. Whose common wisdom? 6,000 people ride shuttles from SF to the valley. You honestly believe that 6,000 people have drove up housing prices by $131 billion in San Francisco in 2015 alone?? You are making a completely baseless assertion. You need to provide evidence to support it, I do not need to do anything to refute it…though its very easy to do.

  57. The hubris of this Board of Supervisors is boundless. The SFMTA and the top transit experts in the city have been studying the impacts of shuttles for over 4 years. For the last 18 months they have required the shuttles to participate in a pilot study where they coordinated schedules, meshed them with MUNI schedules to eliminate conflicts, cleaned up the bus fleet, required that the larger buses stay off side streets and everything is working so well that all the protests have stopped. At the 11th hour, with a permanent plan all worked out that meets the needs of MUNI riders, neighborhoods and shuttle riders, Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin and Eric Campos step in and say HOOOOLD THE HORSES! STOP THE PLAN! they are going to comer up with a better plan in just 2 weeks!!! Somehow I think this delay is related to politics not policy. The “new plan” will not be better for MUNI, for neighborhoods or for shuttle riders, but I bet its better for Kim, Peskin and Campos.

  58. I disagree. I’ve known a few people who have moved to Silicon Valley because they were unable to compete or afford apartments in SF. I’ve spoken with many who say they prefer to live in the city because it’s “more fun”.
    My cousin, in fact, didn’t want to pay such a high rent for a one bedroom in SF. And it was too competitive. So he easily found a place in Mountain View, 3 miles from work (google campus). It was still expensive (to me, at least), but about 1000 less than the one bedrooms in the mission. He doesn’t drive–he had to buy a bicycle because he couldn’t get to work. He joked that it would have been easier for him to get to work from SF, via shuttle. Anyway, he recently decided he wanted to live closer to work than 3 miles, and pay less. So he found a smaller one bedroom, easily, in Mountain View, even closer to work.

  59. This?

    Yes, that is indeed a Masters thesis.

    It boils down to two interesting things. One, it hand selects five shuttle stops and compares rent increases within a half mile to between half and a full mile. Two, it quotes a real estate agent estimate of a shuttle premium up to 20%.

    The latter agent note is persuasive. The ‘major research project’ is just plain bad: the five stops were not randomly selected, no attempt is made to control for any other variable, including both neighborhood and the existence of other shuttle stops. The thesis does not do anything resembling useful modeling, and the absence of the phrase ‘cluster sampling’ suggests its author has no idea what she is doing and does not know how to build or test a simple model, much less the clustered design she chose.

    The anecdotal evidence here is the only thing that makes sense: a house in a prime neighborhood right next to a shuttle stop will sell for more. The rest is.. a Master’s thesis.

  60. You’re simply wrong about this. I’ve lived in SF for close to 15 years and commuted to the south bay before the existence of any shuttles. I drove to Palo Alto and Mountain View, among other destinations (occasionally taking Caltrain to break up the routine) but, at no time, did I ever consider moving south. Not once. And I have many, many colleagues, with whom this topic has been discussed many times over the years, who agree with me. SF is our home; none of us are moving, shuttle or no shuttle. If you want to get rid of the buses and inconvenience us, so be it, but many of us will stay because we love it here. Sorry, but that’s the cold, hard reality.

    You’re perhaps forgetting that highly-paid workers can afford to rent parking garages. I know I can.

  61. The difference isn’t that much. Living in a shared house in SF is $900-$1400, and $800-$1200 in the Peninsula/South Bay. And don’t underestimate the value of SF’s rent control. A renter in the Peninsula/South Bay can be evicted or have their rent raises by >30%, while a renter in SF has much more stability.

  62. Hahahaha. Sorry, to disappoint you, Tim, but the commuter bus program is not “in trouble.” On the .005% chance you’re right: I look forward to buying a new car (I gave mine up a couple of years ago) and hitting 101 South just as I did years ago before the existence of the shuttles; though the commute will be a pain in the ass, I’ll be comforted by the notion that thousands will be joining me in clogging the freeways, thanks to your NIMBY idiocy. I’ll be blowing you a kiss and giving you the finger as I pass Bernal.

  63. Believe me, taking a Google bus to work and home is not an easy commute. It is time consuming and exhausting. Smart companies have been opening up main or large satellite offices in San Francisco so that employees who live in SF can simply commute across the City. A lot of meetings are done via video with employees collaborating from various work sites. The lack of suitable housing in Silicon Valley has a lot of knock-on effects, including the move of companies to San Francisco. Housing prices in San Francisco are not going to stabilize by curtailing Google busses. Probably the opposite will happen.

  64. The evidence is not anecdotal; it was the subject of a fairly major research project (more specifically an M.A. thesis in urban planning) showing the increased evictions and increased rents within a certain radius of Google bus shuttle stops. If you search for “The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project” + “Google Bus Shuttles,” you should be able to find it.

    There’s also a study — I don’t remember if it was Zillow or not — that showed that Apple workers drive up housing costs whenever they move into a neighborhood.

  65. Just like yesterday, the sun came up, people got on their buses to go to work and create value. They’ll come home in the evenings to their homes, friends, and families, and they’re not going to worry about what Tim Redmond, the Board of Supervisors, or spiteful neighbors think of them. Apple just posted the most profitable quarter of any company in history, do you really think their employees are looking to you for validation? Try to shake the tree all you want, the world will keep on turning, the buses will keep running, people will continue going to work.

  66. Most San Franciscans don’t want the tech buses and don’t buy the crap about them saving Muni from being overwhelmed, etc. The tech buses use our resources without paying for them and bog down Muni and traffic in the city.

  67. SF is more affordable than San Jose? Not by a long shot. People want to live here and if their employer makes it so easy as to pick them up outside of their Pacific Heights/Mission or SoMa apt… they’ll live here and continue to drive up rents and displace needy people.

  68. Good reporter’s eye you have, danimal. After reading your comment, I look forward to 48 Hills tomorrow, and its latest spin on its “evidence.” 😉

  69. The main reason people work in Silicon Valley but live in San Francisco is that the Valley lacks suitable, affordable rental housing. Of course, some of theses commuters choose to live in SF because they love city life, but the vast majority put up with the horrendous commute because they cannot find comproble housing in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Cupertino and other towns close to their jobs. Attacking the Google busses directs political action away from insisting on solutions of building more housing in Silicon Valley and building robust public transit to connect people with jobs across the Bay Area.

  70. The common wisdom at this point is that an influx of highly paid tech workers, whether from Silicon Vally or based locally, is driving up housing costs. So far the best evidence of this comes from the Eviction mapping project. Those who disbelieve this should provide some evidence to the contrary.

    Those who claim that banning the buses would boost car traffic to Silicon Valley are missing a key point. The cost and hassle of owning and parking a car in SF, combined with the frustration of monumental traffic jams on 101, would make living in SF less attractive and perhaps force some of the bus riders to move closer to their jobs.

  71. 48 Hills Yesterday: But anecdotal evidence indicates that the availability of the shuttles for on-average better-paid tech workers is driving up housing costs in SF – and fueling evictions and displacements of low- to moderate income people to the suburbs

    48 Hills Today: There’s a lot of evidence that the tech shuttles do, indeed, drive up housing costs.

    so we’ve gone from anecdotal evidence to a lot of evidence in less than 24 hours. Nice work. I think you are so blinded by your loathing of tech that you’ve become completely out of touch with what most SFers think about certain issues. Tech buses keep MUNI from being completely overwhelmed, keep cars off the road, and make parking slightly less shitty for the rest of us. But because tech workers are in them. . . well, you know, fuck those people. Just a bunch of Mission Douchebags, right, Tim?

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