Volunteer group criticizes commuter shuttle fee proposal as SFMTA scheduled to vote 

As San Francisco transit officials vote Tuesday whether to legalize the use of Muni bus stops for commuter shuttles that ferry tech workers back and forth from Silicon Valley, one left-leaning group is fighting to put the brakes on the plan.

On the eve of the vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors, the League of Pissed-Off Voters, a volunteer advocacy group, issued a lengthy statement outlining its concerns. Under an 18-month pilot program, the shuttles using Muni stops will be required to pay $1 per stop per day.

“The fee needs to be increased to compensate for delays to Muni and for the tech buses’ impact on housing costs,” the statement said.

Speaking for the League of Pissed-Off Voters, Cynthia Crews said that, “The spotlight is really on the SFMTA board of directors right now.” The proposal, she said, needs to “go back to the table.”

“We don’t hate tech workers and we’re not really opposed to the buses, but we want everyone to pay their fair share,” Crews said.

While Crews said it will take more analysis to determine that “fair share,” the group believes the $1-per-stop proposal is far from the preferred amount. The group called the recommendation a “joke.”

The transit agency is proposing a cost-recovery permit program, as state law prevents creating a fee that goes beyond cost recovery. But the league group argues that the SFMTA could negotiate for a higher payment agreement by working with the companies, or conduct a nexus study that would result in an impact fee. Another option, the group argues, is that a progressive tax could be brought to the voters.

“The giant double-decker buses should pay more than the short shuttles, and the cost per stop should escalate depending on the number of stops a company has,” the group proposes.

The volunteer group has about 50 active members and reaches about 7,500 on an email list. Its position has been echoed by other community advocates as well. Around the Bay Area, Google’s vehicles and other commuter buses have come to symbolize gentrification for some community advocates as they fight soaring rents, evictions and cost of living. Last month, tensions rose when protesters blocked buses.

The 18-month proposed pilot program, which would launch in July, is expected to generate $1.5 million for the SFMTA to pay for its administration and enforcement costs.

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