Tech buses proliferating throughout Bay Area

By Erin Baldassari : eastbaytimes – excerpt – (includes graph)

If operated by a single agency, the private tech shuttles would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the Bay Area. Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

On any given day, more than 800 “tech buses” negotiate narrow city streets and congested freeways to cart employees to offices throughout the Bay Area, according to a first-of-its-kind survey released Wednesday by a regional transportation planning agency.

There are so many of the large, privately owned shuttles operating in the Bay Area that if they all fell under a single agency, they would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the region in terms of ridership, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which released the study in conjunction with the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored advocacy organization. All told, the 35 shuttle services included in the survey collectively carried some 34,000 passengers a day, or more than 9.6 million people in 2014, the last year for which data was available.

It’s the first study to look comprehensively at the growing practice which ignited protests in San Francisco and in the East Bay over the past few years. Demonstrators have argued the buses are a symbol of gentrification and the employees who ride them to high-paid jobs in the South Bay are responsible for hastening the widening inequities in housing and pay in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland.

But there’s never been any good data on just how many buses are operating in the area because there’s no single government agency tasked with collecting that data, said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the transportation commission…

While organizations like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have detailed the increase in evictions in areas adjacent to tech bus stops in San Francisco, Adrian Covert, the Bay Area Council’s policy director, said the rise in private shuttles is a response to the housing shortage, not its cause. At the heart of the issue, Covert said, is the both the region’s booming economic success and its failure to build enough housing in areas where new jobs are being added.

“The private sector is responding by providing shuttles that go further distances to pick up employees,” Covert said. “The bad news is that we have to do this in the first place … because the housing stock is not keeping pace with demand.”… (more)

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