Supervisors to examine tour buses after complaints, crash 

click to enlarge Alamo Square
  • mike koozmin/2012 S.f. examiner file photo
  • Alamo Square residents successfully rallied to restrict tour buses in their neighborhood.
Tech commuter shuttles are not the only buses that irk some San Franciscans.

Tour buses carting tourists to destination spots from the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square to the sharp curves of Lombard Street also rank high on lists of grievances.

When an open-air double-decker tour bus veered off course last July in the Richmond district, it struck a low-hanging wire on 12th Avenue and sent five to the hospital, raising new questions about oversight of the industry.

At the request of Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the neighborhood where the July accident occurred, the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on tour buses. It will examine their frequency, routes and safety measures.

“It’s not the first time [tour buses] have caused problems in our neighborhoods,” Mar said at the time. “These buses are barely regulated with very few rules to guide them and little recourse for residents whose streets these buses use frequently.”

The hearing also comes about one month after a ban of tour buses went into effect for the Alamo Square area. Sustained complaints from residents of that area prompted the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors to vote in November to ban them effective Jan. 15. Tour buses are now directed to a new loading zone with a five-minute time limit on the north side of Fell Street just east of Pierce Street.

It’s not just roadway use that has generated complaints. The tour buses have also come under attack for noise since some of them use amplified sound to inform riders about the sights. In 2012, The City stopped short of requiring tour bus operators to use headsets and forgo amplified noise, as they must in New York. Instead, they are required to ensure that amplified sound doesn’t carry for more than 50 feet.

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