Noe Valley Voice July-August 2009

Shuttle Bus Study to Arrive in September

By Corrie M. Anders

San Francisco officials in September will unveil the results of a study commissioned to resolve a festering problem in Noe Valley and Glen Park: the proliferation of private buses that shuttle high-tech workers between their homes and jobs on the Peninsula.

At the request of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority has been studying the shuttle vehicles, which have created cultural wars in the local blogosphere and a face-off at a June 4 community meeting sponsored by the residents group Upper Noe Neighbors.

After the Voice two years ago first publicized the complaints of aggravated residents along Jersey Street, the tech companies established new shuttle routes through the neighborhood, and shifted a portion of the bus traffic to 30th Street.

That street has Muni's 24-Divisadero, 26-Valencia, and the J-Church streetcar, and a pool of vans shuttling clients to the 30th Street Senior Center off Chenery Street.

"So you've got all of this coming down that one block on 30th Street between Chenery and Dolores streets," says Vicki Rosen, head of the Neighbors.

Rosen said the meeting, held at Upper Noe Recreation Center, attracted a crowd of some 50 people, including many who used the shuttle services. A representative for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Genentech also spoke at the forum, pointing out the financial and environmental benefits that the shuttles provided by taking a sizeable number of commuters out of their cars.

Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director of the Transportation Authority, noted later that the shuttle buses have raised complaints of double-parking, noise, and potentially dangerous situations for pedestrians crossing the street.

Most of the shuttle buses run during morning and afternoon commutes, and "anything that happens in rush hour tends to be magnified," he said.

Moscovich said his agency's study, which began in May, will try "to understand the role that these shuttles play in [citywide] transportation. It's a new animal and we're trying to figure out where it belongs," Moscovich said.

"The idea is to look at the benefits and impacts of having those shuttles on the street and whether there is any action that the city should be taking to either facilitate their operations or integrate them better into any regulatory moves that might need to be taken," Moscovich said. The study's findings and recommendations will be released in September, he said.

Locals Go Back and Forth Over Shuttles

People on both sides of the shuttle-bus debate vented online before (and after) a June meeting in Upper Noe Valley. Here is a sampling of comments registered on the blog

--I'm not crazy about these buses for the following reasons. They go too fast down the street, they idle in the street, are noisy and smelly, and they add traffic congestion on a narrow residential block. I used to work at Apple, so I understand the need for this sort of commuter bus. Sure, it's a great thing, but I think it should be more respectful of the neighborhood.

--I don't understand why some pretend that busing highly paid tech workers into S.F. neighborhoods has no impact. It does make it more expensive for people to live here, as it drives up rents and housing prices (that's just basic economics of supply and demand). If you want a neighborhood of just highly paid professionals, great. Noe Valley is just about there.

--The highly paid professionals are not the first to invade Noe Valley. That honor goes to the Spaniards, followed by "The Americans."

--I commute 40 miles to Santa Clara on Caltrain daily. My wife commutes 4 steps to her desk. We could move to Santa Clara and put the burden on her. We could move to San Carlos and both be screwed. Or we could live in Noe.

--Meetings like this are a joke when a bunch of selfish people use petty excuses to make their lives more comfortable at the cost of the bigger picture. Kind of reminds you about how humans are destroying the environment but not really caring as long as they get theirs.

--I think both sides have legit issues, and if folks calm down, then some solutions can be discussed.