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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Demonstrators staged an April Fool’s Day prank on Google workers by blocking their private shuttle in San Francisco’s Mission District Tuesday, hours ahead of a key hearing on a proposal to charge companies to use the city’s bus stops.
Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors will vote whether or not to move ahead on its plan to charge private shuttles $1 each time employees are picked up or dropped off at a Municipal Railway bus stop.
Decked out in colorful clown costumes, protestors blocked the Google bus at 24th and Valencia streets from leaving, while others publicized a “new” bus pass called “GMuni” which would allow the public to board private tech shuttles free – as a joke.
“I’m president of a new subsidiary of Google called Gmuni,” said protest organizer Judith Hart in jest.
Google workers did not appear to find it very funny, with many saying they would be late for work. There was some yelling back and forth as some protesters attempted to board the shuttle bus.
Police were called around 9 a.m. and dispersed the group of about 20 to 30 protesters, and the bus was able to move around 9:15 a.m., police said. There were no arrests
The event was a parody protesters put on to make their point that private buses should not be using publicly-funded Muni bus stops – and that the pilot program to have tech buses pay a dollar a stop is not enough.
Protesters said they wanted tech companies to pay for they said is their impact on rising housing costs and evictions, as well as fund affordable housing initiatives.
Deepa Varma member of advocacy group Heart of the City Collective said tech companies should pay more for the right to use the bus stops. “Something that actually funds Muni,” said Varma. And something actually helps impact the displacement issue we’re seeing.”
Union workers and community groups have appealed the Metropolitan Transportation Agency’s plan for an 18-month pilot program to charge the $1 fee to private shuttles..
The SFMTA says the program will help it make sure there is very little disruption to Muni lines and that companies are following the rules.“The pilot program allows us to have more information to better enforce the private shuttles that are running throughout San Francisco,” said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.