SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A highly controversial pilot program to allow tech shuttle buses to use a limited number of San Francisco bus stops has been given the green light by the city’s Board of Supervisors.

Following a long and contentious hearing on Tuesday night, officials denied an environmental appeal brought by opponents of the program, which said the city approved it without an environmental review.

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The private employee shuttles, operated by tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Google, among others, would pay $1 per use of Municipal Railway bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers under the 18-month pilot program.

Supporters of the program at the hearing said the buses mean fewer drivers on streets.

“This is a transit-first policy city and this shuttle bus program clearly is consistent with that,” said one supporter.

“It’s obvious, getting people out of cars and into buses is an environmental good,” said another at the hearing.

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But critics argued that not only did the city not study the potential environmental impacts from the buses, but the buses are symbols of inequality and gentrification.

“If you are a mostly white, male tech worker, you get VIP bus transit,” argued one opponent. “But if you’re black and brown, if you’re a senior or disabled, if you’re poor, you not only get at the back of the bus, but you have to wait at the back of the bus behind the bus.”

The shuttles, which transport thousands of workers each day around San Francisco and to Silicon Valley, have become a symbol of the perceived economic divide in the city, including the rising cost of housing and increased number of evictions.

In many cases, protesters have gone so far as to block the path of the buses, including on Tuesday in San Francisco’s Mission District.

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Opponents of the shuttle bus program are still considering a lawsuit.