Tour bus riders in San Francisco will not be forced to use headsets, and operators will not have to obtain permits.
The proposed restrictions, intended to reduce noise and other complaints related to an industry credited with helping The City’s tourism flourish, were scrapped amid strong opposition from bus operators.
The Board of Supervisors is set to vote Tuesday on legislation that will instead require that buses’ amplified systems are not audible within 50 feet.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has implemented elements of its tour bus management plan, drafted in February 2011, to set parking and other operational regulations such as street restrictions and where buses can load and unload passengers.
The board also is slated to vote on legislation that will help with enforcement of those regulations.
The Police Department has committed to ramping up enforcement, along with making quarterly reports on citation numbers and enforcement issues.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu had initially proposed requiring the headsets, but decided to back off to see if the compromise works.
During a recent board hearing, Daniel Oppenheim, owner of the Urban Safari tour bus company and spokesman for the San Francisco Tour Operators Association, raised a number of concerns about tougher restrictions.
Oppenheim criticized the use of headsets on a number of fronts and called it an “environmental disaster,” adding that the “quality of the tours would suffer dramatically.” He said patrons in places where headsets are used complain that the tours “don’t have any liveliness … or punch.”
Oppenheim also said headset wires create a tripping hazard and more than 2 million would be thrown out each year.
However, Chiu did not agree with Oppenheim’s assessment.
“In the era of wireless technologies, we can have headsets that don’t have wires,” Chiu said. “And in an era of reusable technologies, we can also have headsets that are reusable.”