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San Francisco Proposes Rules For Tech Company Shuttles

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A shuttle commonly known as a "Google Bus" arrives at a Muni bus stop in San Francisco to pick up commuters. (CBS)

A shuttle commonly known as a “Google Bus” arrives at a Muni bus stop in San Francisco to pick up commuters. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors announced Monday they will vote Jan. 21 on an 18-month pilot program requiring private company shuttle buses to pay a fee to use Muni bus stops throughout the city.

Earlier Monday, Mayor Ed Lee announced the program that would allow the so-called ‘Google buses’ – shuttles used by many high-tech firms – to use 200 Muni bus stops.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the fee is limited by state law to covering the cost of the program.

KCBS, KPIX 5, and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said the $1 per stop deal will work out to $1.5 million over the duration of the pilot program and that the city “won’t make a dime.”

Lee said he hopes the new pilot program will stem the tide of complaints about shuttle bus congestion and their use of Muni stops.

“They’re getting people to work and back from work safely and they’re preventing thousands of cars from getting on the road,” he said.

The issue came to a head in early December when a Google bus carrying employees was blocked by protesters in San Francisco’s Mission District. Workers from the tech sector have become a symbol for the city’s rising rents and a recent surge in Ellis Act evictions.

Lee’s sentiment was echoed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the 8th district where the shuttles are both vilified and revered.

“Thousands of San Franciscans rely on these shuttles to get to work and to earn a livelihood every day and we need to stop politicizing their ability to do that,” Wiener said.

Google plans to participate in the pilot, which means getting a permit and paying a fee based on each stop in a bus zone.

Carla Boragno of Genentech said her company is also on board.

“We provide the service to our employees. We get them to work so that they can discover great medicines to save people’s lives. We want to make sure that we’re doing this in coordination and in conjunction with the city. We don’t want to cause delays in Muni,” she said.

Permits would be required for shuttles that wish to use bus zones for loading and unloading.

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