Google's bus program in San Francisco gets challenged by activists

A few dozen housing and inequality activists from Heart of the City surrounded a Google shuttle at 24th and Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco. The purpose: to draw attention to a proposed tax hike on San Francisco’s Municipal Railway public transportation system and to get the Bay Area’s technology companies to pay more for using public bus stops to pick up shuttle riders. It was the latest in a series of attempts to raise awareness about the tech industry and its effect on the city. 

San Francisco city supervisors and affordable housing activists butted heads again over a new pilot program to manage tech commuter shuttles from Silicon Valley-based companies like Google and Facebook. A handful of activist groups say that the new pilot program, which charges tech companies $1 per stop, must undergo environmental review. That would involve a lengthy legal process that could take months or years. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency had previously exempted the pilot program, which was passed back in January, from environmental review. The program is set to charge $1 per stop fee, in part because the city’s transportation agency wasn’t legally allowed to create a revenue-generating program. So the pilot program can only pay for its costs, which are expected to be $1.7 million.

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