San Francisco Alamo Square neighbors look to charge tour buses 

Neighborhood groups have long groused about noisy tour buses spewing fumes around San Francisco’s most beautiful tourism destinations. But that doesn’t keep the ubiquitous buses from driving tourists around The City.

So one group is saying if you can’t beat ’em, charge ’em.

The Alamo Square Neighborhood Association is suggesting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency allow tour buses to park at a dedicated stop that could be vacated as the agency looks to make the
21-Hayes line more efficient.

The City could then charge the companies for use and take the proceeds to help beautify Alamo Square, as budget cuts continue to threaten park maintenance.

The idea would produce revenue for The City while providing tour buses with a safe place to drop off passengers to use the restroom and check out the famed Painted Ladies houses, said Lisa Zahner, who brought the idea up to Mayor Ed Lee during a meeting with the Neighborhood Parks Council last week.

While there are dedicated parking spots for tour buses in places such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Mission Dolores, Alamo Square has none. That causes buses to double-park, which creates traffic nightmares, Zahner said.

“We recognize the importance of tourism to our economy,” said the mother of three. “At the same time, our park is suffering from deferred maintenance, and we need to think entrepreneurially.”

The mayor appears to be listening.

After bringing up the idea, Lee told Zahner to write up the proposal and the SFMTA will study it.

“The mayor is asking everyone for ideas,” said Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey. “The whole idea is to build partnerships and develop ideas for revenue and efficiencies.”

But whether the idea works will depend on the SFMTA and tour bus operators hammering out a proposal. Tour bus operators are already the target of one piece of legislation, introduced by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

It would require the companies to provide headsets for customers instead of delivering info over a loudspeaker. That legislation is currently in committee.

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Brent Begin

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