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SFMTA Proposes New Shuttle Rules

The SFMTA is proposing enhancing and extending its regulation of private commuter shuttles. You can read the newly released proposal here (.pdf).

The idea is to build upon a largely successful pilot program that is set to expire at the end of January 2016.

The pilot to regulate commuter shuttles began in August 2014 and sought to bring more order to our streets. The shuttles range in size from mini-buses to double-decker motor coaches and carry workers to Silicon Valley tech companies, Peninsula biotech offices or across town to medical facilities. They’ve been around for years but have really multiplied during the latest tech boom.

Before August 2014, shuttles pulled over wherever they could, including Muni bus stops, unoccupied curb space or in the streets. That created conflicts with Muni, blocked traffic and created safety hazards – a situation that often felt like the Wild West.

The SFMTA stepped up with an 18-month pilot to test a set of regulations that strictly limited the zones at which private shuttles could stop, charged a fee to private shuttles to stop in Muni bus zones and shuttle-only loading zones, concentrated enforcement and collected extensive data on shuttle activity. 

State law limits the fee amount to the cost of operating the program. The fee is now $3.67 per stop made. So a shuttle provider that stops at 10 different zones 10 times per day would be charged for 100 stop-events per day, or $367 a day.

With input from neighbors, elected officials, employers, shuttle operators and transportation professionals, the SFMTA will soon ask its Board of Directors to implement an ongoing Commuter Shuttle Program that will build upon the pilot in several key ways, including:

  1. Requiring buses over 35 feet long to travel on the major and minor arterial street network as defined by the California Department of Transportation, keeping them off smaller residential streets
  2. Requiring participating shuttle operators to use newer vehicles, lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the shuttle fleet
  3. Requiring shuttle operators to certify they are in labor harmony by submitting a plan that outlines efforts to maintain consistent and efficient shuttle service in the event of potential disruptions, including labor disputes
  4. Increasing enforcement resources devoted to shuttle zones and corridors and recovering the costs as part of the fee for participation in the program
  5. Increasing capital improvements at shuttle zones and corridors, with shuttle operators paying for their portion of the benefits as part of the fee for participation in the program 

If the pilot expires without an ongoing program in place, shuttles will still be able to legally operate on San Francisco’s streets, but their activities will not be regulated. 

The choice isn’t between shuttles or no shuttles, it’s between a regulated system and an unregulated one.

You can find more information, including the proposed Commuter Shuttle Program Policy, the SFMTA’s October 2015 evaluation report of the pilot and a map of streets that large shuttles would be required to operate on,