With an estimated reduction of over 45 million vehicle miles traveled per year, a big benefit of the private shuttle buses running from San Francisco to the Peninsula is a reduction in overall vehicle emissions and congestion on the roads.

According to an analysis conducted by the Department of Public Work’s Infrastructure Design & Construction Division, however, the cost impact that a large shuttle bus has on the lifetime of the physical roadway is nearly 4,700 times that of an individual SUV:

…every time a large shuttle bus drives over [a] hypothetical lane mile, the impact on the pavement accounts for $1.08 out of the $1,045,000 it will ultimately cost to reconstruct the lane. In comparison, the cost impact that a typical passenger vehicle has on the lifetime of pavement is $0.00023 every time it drives on the same hypothetical one-mile long lane mile.

On the agenda for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors this afternoon, an environmental appeal of the SFMTA’s approved pilot program which would allow private shuttle buses to share the use of San Francisco’s municipal bus stops for a fee of $1.06 per stop.

The fee is designed to simply capture the cost of administering the pilot program but does not capture any additional impact to the roads, as the “SFMTA is precluded from charging a fee for the proportional cost of such damage pursuant to Section 9400.8 of the California Vehicle Code, which restricts the ability of a local jurisdiction to impose a tax, permit or fee for use of City streets.”

∙ Policy Analysis Report: Impact of Private Shuttles [sfbos.org]

17 thoughts on “Private Shuttles Are Easing Congestion, But Causing More Potholes”
  1. How about reducing the size of the shuttles–switching to vehicles more similar to city buses than long-distance buses? They don’t need the luggage space, and the reduction in boarding time would significantly reduce the impact on Muni, as well as the streets.

  2. So for the same reason we can’t charge people for driving down Lombard St. But somehow they want to be able to create a congestion fee… how about a private bus congestion fee. I don’t see why tech shuttle busses are any worse than say, megabus or any number of tourist busses.

  3. This is exactly why private cars and trucks took over from trains and public transportation in the 20th century- the cost of maintaining the roads is distributed across all taxpayers, while railroads and trolleys had to pay both to maintain their systems and right-of-ways. The decline of those systems just accelerated the switch. This new system of private buses are just the latest incarnation of the two-tier transportation reality: those who can afford to ride in style, and the rest of us who can’t, even as we subsidize the roads.

  4. Alai, a number of these busses are double decker in that they hold passengers on the top and bottom levels and so they can hold significantly more seated people (also with seat belts) than city busses. It would seem doubtful that people will want to stand for an hour on the highway, which would prevent people from working on the busses. Also I think some of the busses have space for bikes, since not everyone can afford to live within a short distance to the bus stop.

  5. Those potholes were there before the buses. I think SF is pulling a fast one, like how they got us to repair the public sidewalks in front of our house.

  6. All these bus issues would go away if the tech companies do what UCSF already does, with its shuttle system. And that is, publicize the routes and let anyone ride for free. Yes you can ride the UCSF shuttles. They zip around town and are free.

  7. @Spencer….you got it.
    “the potholes in SF have been terrible for the last 15 yrs.”
    It’s because SF spends most of it’s money supplying druggies with crack pipes, and clean needles. It’s the cities priority to support the needy and throw the rest of us under the bus…..
    Pot holes don’t have professional protesters circling city hall chanting… give me…..give me…give meeee what I want.
    I want free rent…I want free health care…I want free drugs…I want free needles and the list goes on and on.
    But I digress….
    BTW if you ride a motorcycle or scooter be careful riding down Brannan street in the SoMa. I have seen lots of 2′ wide by 2′ wide by 1′ deep pot holes between 4th and 6th streets. I think mostly from all the heavy truck traffic hauling dirt away from the tunneling for the 4th street Muni extension.
    So anecdotally speaking IMO some of these BIG pot holes could be from all the development and excavation sites around the city and their related heavy truck activity. BTW a lot of the activity only occurs in the late evening….you don’t even see all the trucks cruising the streets.
    I just don’t get it… how is it that all these pot holes are “all” related to the new commuter bus traffic and not heavy truck traffic?
    Oh I know why…because it’s SF’s silly protest dejour…it’s kool to protest the buses today just like it was kool to key the dot com workers cars back in 2000.
    I just love how accepting and liberal the people of our beautiful city can be…don’t you?
    noun: hypocrite; plural noun: hypocrites
    1.a person who indulges in hypocrisy.
    2.a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions don’t live up to their words.

  8. Uh, no. Aside from the fact that the current mayor used to be in charge of fixing potholes, and so is an expert, every mayor for the past, oh, 20+ years has lowered business and hotel taxes, given out bonuses, etc. Basically, the city/county government has declined to include enough infrastructure in its budget projections.

  9. I’ll second Spencer’s comment on SF potholes. I blew out two left-side tires in a pothole driving north on Leavenworth at Ellis earlier in the month.
    I’m sure the City will be putting another bond issue to voters for street maintenance soon.

  10. Hey, maybe if we had a robust and fully integrated Bay Area public transit system many of these shuttles wouldn’t be necessary.

  11. i just read on yahoo that protestors today purposely puked on a yahoo shuttle bus driver window. THese protestors are real classy and we should take them all seriously. They are the ones who should leave the city, not the productive tech workers.

  12. “protestors today purposely puked on a yahoo shuttle bus driver window.”
    Well that answers why they don’t let anyone ride these buses for free.

  13. the reason they would never let anyone ride these buses is mainly for privacy reasons. these companies encourage workers to work on the buses. companies like apple would never allow regular folks ride the bus cause they could potentially learn about trade secrets.

  14. These digs at the shuttle buses are getting more and more far-fetched and insane. So a few tech companies have a few buses rolling around. BFD. What’s the road wear impact of a Safeway truck or a Chevron truck or a PG&E truck? The road infrastructure is there to enable economic activity because that benefits us all and that’s why we invest in these things that would be too impractical to leave to private enterprise. If you want to argue for weight-based vehicle taxes, then say that. Quit making it about specific companies’ specific transportation needs.

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