Monday, November 09, 2015

Overrun by the Google buses

Signs have gone up in the 'hood announcing a meeting on November 17 at City Hall. These list the locations where Google buses have been stopping under the "Pilot Program" which was our local rulers' ruse for legalizing the use of the city of San Francisco as a transit hub for Peninsula tech companies. Yes, the list is long.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has issued a report on this venture. I'm sure the beleaguered employees assigned to write this document did their best. But what comes through is an agency without any independent capacity to gather data, which received only sporadic cooperation from shuttle operators, and which was grossly understaffed to either verify that information or enforce any limitations on bus behavior. Some of the underlying tone of the report is almost plaintive.

Despite these limitations, some of the conclusions within these writers' bureaucratic jargon suggest that double-decker tour-bus size vehicles flooding city streets makes for tensions:

Shuttles block travel and bike lanes about 35% of the time that they stop...

Keeping streets safe, keeping transit moving, and preventing shuttle-zone blockages are key objectives of enforcement, but are not reflected in citation data ...

More enforcement staffing, and a focus on enforcement both at shuttle zones and along shuttle routes, would assist in keeping traffic flowing smoothly throughout the shuttle-zone network ...

The vast majority of community feedback focused on large shuttles being unwelcome on the streets, especially residential streets ...

Real-time shuttle vehicle data would greatly assist the SFMTA in regulating and managing commuter shuttle activity ...

According to the report, the "Pilot Program" was mandated to "provide a positive partnership" between the tech companies that hire the bus companies and the City as well as "increase acceptance of commuter shuttles by community members." To that end, it emphasizes that Google buses

reduce drive-alone trips, vehicle miles traveled, and greenhouse gas emission.

I'm quite willing to believe the Google buses do all those good things.

But I remain galled by the arrogance of tech companies which have simply appropriated San Francisco for their unfettered convenience without regard to the costs they inflict on those of us already here. It's not the workers who ride the buses who are at fault here or even the bus companies that the tech giants hire. It's the corporations which expect to operate without meaningful check or regulation while raking in billions.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails