April 6, 2009

Update: Shuttle Bus Study

Wondering what happened at the shuttle bus meeting a couple weeks ago? We weren't able to attend, and so asked for minutes/ impressions from readers. Here's one person's take on the meeting:
The goal of our Upper Noe Neighbors meeting on April 23rd was to inform our members that the San Francisco Transportation Authority is in the process of a four-month study on the use of shuttle buses in San Francisco. After this study is complete, it will be presented before the Board of Supervisors and other government figures. Part of the study involves collecting input from various neighborhood groups.

Our meeting was particularly productive in that it attracted a variety of opinions & individuals. There were the shuttle-using tech workers, who rely on such transportation to get to and from their jobs outside San Francisco. There were also the residents who feel they are impacted negatively by the buses and their related noise and overwhelming presence.

However, the bottom line was that everyone agreed that an environmental impact report should ultimately be performed on the shuttle bus use. As more and more companies offer this shuttle service to their employees as a benefit, the buses will most likely proliferate over time. What is truly their environmental impact? The buses cut down on car use, but are they hazardous to the roads, and do they emit environmentally unfriendly emissions?

We will be staying in touch with Margaret Cortes, who is heading up the study. Will keep everyone posted on next steps.

Eileen
Board Member, Upper Noe Neighbors
Thanks, Eileen!

[NVSF: Shuttle Buses: Useful or Menace?]

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is truly their environmental impact?
-> Gas emissions.
The buses cut down on car use, but are they hazardous to the roads
-> Yes, but probably less so than the 10 cars each saves.
Do they emit environmentally unfriendly emissions?
-> Yes, like cars do.

As for impact, agree to roughly how many cars each bus saves on a trip. Maybe 7? Then ask, is the bus worse, or not as bad, as 7 cars' emissions?
Then call it done, and move on.

Anonymous said...

7 cars? Are you serious? The shuttle bus I take daily typically runs close to full. That's 40 cars taken off the road. Think about that the next time you're stuck in traffic.

newshound said...

NIMBY Crap.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the objections are more about the cars parking in the neighborhood to catch the shuttle. I know of several people who drive to Noe Valley from other neighborhoods to catch the Apple shuttle. That means they are taking up parking spaces in Noe all day, instead of the usual weekday emptying out.
But taking that many cars off the freeways is good news - not bad!

murphstahoe said...

"I know of several people who drive to Noe Valley from other neighborhoods to catch the Apple shuttle."

There are probably just as many people driving from other neighborhoods to catch the J-Church in Noe Valley, honestly, so it's a little disingenuous to suddenly blame the shuttle riders.

The correct answer to this problem is not to ban the shuttle, it is to initiate permit parking. This is utilized in many transit hub neighborhoods with otherwise low density - near the Glen Park BART station and 22nd Street Caltrain for example.

Well, the real answer is that either the people driving to Noe find a better way to get to Noe, or for Apple to have their shuttle stop where those people live - but they don't really have the incentive to do so if they don't bear the externalized cost (messing up residential parking for Noe residents) of just driving to Noe and parking. So the workable answer is permits.

newshound said...

Much of Dolores Heights is moving towards permit parking because of the J commuters.

James said...

The idea of making it harder for companies to help reduce the environmental impact of commuting is abhorrent. I work at a number of different south bay companies each year, including only one that has a shuttle that they let me use (several have shuttles for employees only! Google is extra nice to non-employees). I don't drive when I work for them, and do almost every other day I work down south (I car pool when possible, but that is nowhere near as good as the shuttle). Their shuttles are always crowded with people who own cars but don't drive them! I don't think many would be willing to live in the south bay, if there wasn't a shuttle either. I live in my community by (expensive) choice and won't move unless under extreme duress.

I chose a Prius over a Mercedes to reduce my impact a tiny bit, but if I could have chosen no car - I would have been way happier. Caltrain isn't practical for most people (although Bart is highly practical for the Eastbay, and I love it when I can use it). One thing you might not realize is that many people can expense their south bay commutes, that is a serious incentive to drive. If shuttles aren't nice, people won't be tempted to prefer the more environmental option. Companies usually don't do their best to minimize the harm of commuting, we should support the ones that do.

Anonymous said...

I love it when people who commute (by bus, car or whatever) 100 miles a day lecture those of us who live here and take public transit on environmental impact. If you want to have less impact, live closer to where you work. Seriously. Keep the sanctimony to a minimum.

The idea that anyone would take the J is funny though. I live a block from the mythical J and walk 3/4 of a mile to BART to get downtown because it's faster and more reliable. Esp once MUNI's new service cuts go into effect.

murphstahoe said...

Anonymous - if I lived in Santa Clara, I could bike to my office and back and my commute would be marginally less fuelish than my current bike/train/bike commute. However, I would live 3 miles from a Post Office, 2 from a Grocery Store, nowhere near the restaurants I like, and would be unable to hop the (admittedly mythical) J to the Giants game.

Instead I, and a lot of people I know, live in SF and commute - without using a car - to the office parks built in less enlightened days, and don't own cars. You're being pretty sanctimonious yourself - if you tell me you not only take BART to the office but that you also walk/bike/take transit to the grocery store, the DeYoung, the Beach/whatever, I'll let you have a merit badge. And if you drive your kids to school... ooh boy.

Your argument also does not consider that I'm not leaving my wife, and her work is here in SF. We could move to San Carlos and be halfway in between, save no net transport, yet neither of us will be close to home should our son need us. And we'd be driving to the grocery store.

And when I am riding to the Caltrain station, Eureka, 18th, 14th, etc... are full of cars. There are plenty of people who live AND work in San Francisco and drive the less than 5 miles to their office.

Anonymous said...

My point on the following was: do we really need an drawn-out-environmental-impact report? Can't you just quickly factor these numbers and call it 'done' and move on and make a decision? Just seems like there's plenty of more pressing things to work on than a several-week environmental report.

I'm for the buses. They're probably 3-4 things 'positive' about them for every 'negative'.

---------------
What is truly their environmental impact?
-> Gas emissions.
The buses cut down on car use, but are they hazardous to the roads
-> Yes, but probably less so than the 10 cars each saves.
Do they emit environmentally unfriendly emissions?
-> Yes, like cars do.

As for impact, agree to roughly how many cars each bus saves on a trip. Maybe 7? Then ask, is the bus worse, or not as bad, as 7 cars' emissions?
Then call it done, and move on.