40% percent of SF shuttle riders would move without chartered bus service

In other news, water is wet:

The UC Berkeley study found that without the shuttles, almost half of surveyed employees would drive alone to work, 40 percent would move "closer to their job" and 10 percent said they would quit. Eighteen percent said they would take Caltrain.

The study also looked at the demographics of surveyed shuttle riders: 69 percent are male, 67 percent reported an income of $100,000 or more, 85 percent rent their home, and three percent have children. [...]

Tags: , ,

51 Responses:

  1. Tom Lord says:

    I wonder what their savings rate is like.

  2. Nate says:

    I mean, look where you lived when you were at Netscape. Then when the corporate bonds were free, look where you moved.

    • jwz says:

      Um, when I was commuting to Netscape, I lived in Berkeley, because I was an idiot.

      But after the first couple of years, I worked from home something like 90% of the time.

  3. Ben Rosengart says:

    Only 3% have children? Wow, I had no idea I was such a unicorn.

  4. Anthony says:

    So without the shuttles, 30-something percent of 6500 people would drive alone to work from San Francisco, adding about 2000 cars to city streets during commute hours. Also, since almost 30% of the riders are carless, that's probably an additional 600 cars which would be added to the number of cars parked in the City evenings and weekends. So remind me why the shuttles are supposed to be so bad?

    Maybe it's because the private sector has managed to do mass transit more effectively and more efficiently than the government?

    • James says:

      Specialized single-purpose “transit” is hardly “mass transit”.

    • nooj says:

      If you weren't such a fucking idiot, you would remember that this "more effective and more efficient" shuttle system is able to be effective and efficient by taking a free ride on the back of the government.

      Also, you assume that people who say they would drive, would actually drive. Many would take public transit. Many would never have moved so far from work in the first place.

      • jwz says:

        "Taking a free ride on the back of the government" isn't quite the right framing to explain this, because providing transit infrastructure is one of the things that most people think government is for.

        A better way of putting it is: these companies are stealing taxpayer money that should be used for the benefit of all, and using it to enrich themselves by providing perks to their employees and to only their employees.

        It's a transfer of tax money from the poor to the wealthy.

        • Eric says:

          It's a transfer of tax money from the poor to the wealthy.

          Just like the massive system of government-backed subsidies supporting the individual cars those employees would drive instead? Seems like the shuttle service is likely a smaller transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy, at least.

        • Tom Lord says:

          Don't forget the part where they don't really make anything but get paid enormous sums of money to spy on all of us. That's what's funding bus problem.

      • Anthony says:

        If you weren't such a fucking idiot, you'd notice that I actually read the article, and took into consideration that some of those people would move closer, or take public transit, using numbers coming from that article.

        And what free ride? Using the streets that the vehicle operators are already paying registration and fuel taxes for, and that the increased property taxes collected because the price of housing has shot up because these people have moved to the City are helping to fund? It's not like Muni buses actually pull over into their bus stops even when there aren't people parked there.

        • Jeff Bell says:

          The fuel taxes cover about one third of transportation budget.

          • nooj says:

            I'm not familiar with CA taxes. The fuel taxes of what cover 1/3 of whose budget?

            • Jeff Bell says:

              There is a tax on gasoline that goes into the transportation fund and covers about a third. The other two thirds of the transportation funding comes from the general fund.

              Then 85% of the transportation fund is spent on highways and roads, the other 15% on transit etc.

              Sometimes you'll hear a motorist complain that cyclists are freeloaders because they don't pay any registration fees, or that transit is funded by gas taxes, but if you add it all up, non-drivers are subsidizing the roads. (Which might be OK considering that it's generally useful to have roads.)

              There's a longer discussion on the history here:
              http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_22775594/roadshow-californias-gas-tax-and-what-we-do

        • nooj says:

          Obviously using streets is fine. Why would anyone give a shit if a private company wants to pay a driver to go pick up their employees? That part of your argument is boring: if someone wants to make an alternative to mass transit, by all means do so: just don't use specialized infrastructure for free and claim it's providing a public good.

          I'm talking, for instance, about using the bus stops. It takes a lot of work and political maneuvering to analyze the city's infrastructure and figure out where to put those things; build and maintain them; post signage; keep them free of parked cars, trash, graffiti, and fights; et cetera. Just because most of the time it looks empty doesn't mean a private company--an unimaginably rich private company, at that--should start jumping all over it like Rover with a hardon.

          Google, et al. could pay the city a small fee to use the stops, but they don't. They could allow anyone to get on or off the shuttles, but they don't. Fuck them.

          • Anonnymoose says:

            > Google, et al. could pay the city a small fee to use the stops, but they don't.

            http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Google-bus-backlash-S-F-to-impose-fees-on-tech-5163759.php

            "The Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted 5-0 with one member absent to charge the corporate shuttles a fee of $1 per day per stop, prevent them from using some of the busiest Muni bus stops and require them to yield to public transit vehicles. ... [T]he bus operators will pay $1 per stop per shuttle, an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per operator each year."

            > They could allow anyone to get on or off the shuttles, but they don't.

            No, they cannot. There actually are strict tax regulations involved with running an employee perk like a company shuttle.

            • nooj says:

              It doesn't have to be an employee perk.

              • Anonnymoose says:

                So, you're saying that Google, Facebook, EA, Genentech, et. al. should have an arm that operates in the same space as AC Transit. Why does this make more sense than paying various local transit agencies for use of their stops?

                After you've answered that question, figure out the difference between the tax and injury liabilities of contracting with a private transit company to operate a bus system as an employee perk vs. operating a privately-run bus system that is open to the public. (Hint: Noone will provide the SFMTA with injury insurance. The SFMTA pays all injury awards out-of-pocket.)

                • LafinJack says:

                  So, you're saying that Google, Facebook, EA, Genentech, et. al. should have an arm that operates in the same space as AC Transit.

                  Surely the free market would do this on its own given the chance, but damn that government for... something something.

                • Eli the Bearded says:

                  Isn't that what the Emery-Go-Round is in Emeryville? To quote their website:

                  "The Emery Go-Round shuttle is a free, private transportation service, open to all Emeryville residents, shoppers, visitors and employees of Emeryville businesses. The the vast majority of funding for the Emery Go-Round shuttle is provided by commercial property owners in the citywide transportation business improvement district."

        • Eric says:

          In California, registration and fuel taxes go entirely to state highways, which also require funds from income (and also sales?) taxes. City and county streets are funded by property taxes and (local slice of) sales taxes. All of those have the potential of being partially funded by state and federal matches that come out of income taxes.

          • reboots says:

            Texas works the same way in this respect (sans state income taxes). It's handy to know that as a bicyclist and a property owner, I am in fact just as entitled to use the roads as anybody else.

        • Elusis says:

          increased property taxes collected because the price of housing has shot up

          Hahahahaha, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_13_%281978%29&quot; no.

    • Jeremy Leader says:

      Your 600 cars calculation assumes that "would drive" and "carless" are uncorrelated; I'd expect a substantial negative correlation between the two.

      Also, it's easy to do something "more effectively and more efficiently" if you can choose to ignore the harder, less efficient parts.

    • Elusis says:

      And with the shuttles, all the people who work at the coffee shops, restaurants, bodegas, and nail salons in the city, who have been displaced to the far-flung suburbs because of gentrification, now have to drive IN to work at their jobs, or take BART and MUNI which are already over-loaded and painfully slow. But somehow, the "shuttles take cars off the road!" calculus never looks at that.

      (I'd be looking at moving into the city for my new job out in North Beach, but nope! So me and my Prius will be on the road instead of me walking or biking to work.)

  5. Richard says:

    Jamie,

    You are completely wrong in every way about this issue.

    I commuted on fucking worthless Caltrain from hipster SF to South Bay Sprawl Hell for nearly two decades. Only an idiot would put up with a trip that took and takes more than twice as long as driving, and only self-martying eco-idiots did.

    You're not going to stop "hipsters" (or "brogrammers" or whatever the pejroative du jour for people exactly like you and I might be) moving to SF by suggesting that Google should extend Caltrain to 24th and Valencia or whatever idiotic reallocation of the (tiny amount of!) resources you fantastise ought to happen. All that's going to happen is that more people are going to do exactly the rational, self-interested capitalist thing and drive alone, from where they want to live and can afford to live to the shithole office parks where the capitalists choose to pay them.

    The shuttle buses are "stealing" anything from anybody. If you want to get all self-righteous about private abstraction of public goods (and I do! God to I ever) then Resident Permit Parking (I live on this street, therefore the street is mine mine mine all mine!) is tens of thousands of time more egregious than a few score buses using public rights of way in San Francisco in exactly the same way as hundreds of thousands of planet-destroying single occupant vehicles do every day in SF. (And yes I include "stopping in Muni stops" under the category of how SOVs use ROW in SF. Exemplar: Ed Lee.)

    Anybody exercised about buses in SF, buses that actively reduce SOVs in SF, isn't thinking clearly, doesn't understand the problem, and isn't thinking remotely clearly about any of the problems (Prop 13! Gentrification! Douchebros! A Subway Line On Every Block! Restaurant Reservations! Fixies! Manhattanization! Ellis Act! NIMBYs! Whatever!)

    Anybody who gives a damn about urban quality of life or about any sort of environmental quality would be doing everything he or she can to make buses -- any sort of bus, doesn't matter whose -- work more effectively and efficiently in all cities. Yes, buses.

    • Tim says:

      It's you. You're the douchebrogrammer. You're the whiny idiot who appeals to "clear thinking" while demonstrating absolutely no clue about how to do it.

    • Tom Lord says:

      I just want to clear up one thing because I can't stand to see you like this.

      You're not going to stop "hipsters" (or "brogrammers" or whatever the pejroative du jour for people exactly like you and I might be)

      No, Richard. Nobody is "exactly like you". You are special. Don't let anyone tell you any different. You're special, Richard. Very special.

  6. 40 percent would move "closer to their job"

    That's cute that they think they can do that.

    Meanwhile, back on planet earth, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City and all of the other peninsula burbclaves -- all the way down to incarnate armpits like Milpitas, have lower rental vacancy rates than SF, Berkeley and Oakland. And every single one of those fucking shitholes has been fighting tooth and nail -- fighting and winning, mind you -- against building anything other than single-family set back homes (and damn few of those) for decades.

    So yeah, good luck with that plan.

    (Full disclosure, I bailed on the whole mess just this month, in order to move to a more affordable and less stupidly run city: Manhattan. Have fun with your circular firing squad, kids.)

    • Tom Lord says:

      There's housing conveniently across the Dumbarton in Union City and surrounding areas.

      The buses ("don't buy a car!") to The City ("spend way more than you need to; be cool!") combined with (for most of the bus users) salaries that let them live there but with much repressed savings rates are partly about maintaining dependent, young, naive tools as wage slaves for a few years.

      • James says:

        Now that the judiciary refuses to play along with that scam the glorious free market will accelerate income disparities even faster. But the invisible hand is actually responding in a way that, if not done as a half-measure could actually address the problem. Over a few generations....

      • No. No there is not. Union City: 1.8% vacancy rate. Fremont: 1.7% Milpitas: 1.0% Hayward: 3.1% San Francisco proper has a 3.4% rental vacancy rate, and you can see how well that's working out.

        (All numbers from the census factfinder site; better / more recent numbers cheerfully accepted-- but I've got a shiny nickel that says the trend is not upward.)

        Everyone thinks "surely there's some cheap apartment complex out in the suburbs all these kids could live in so I don't have to consider ever having my views change", and everybody is dead fucking wrong.

        Congratulations, bay area: you've taken a situation that basically every other place in the country would kill to have (a booming economy! jobs! people hiring!) and turned it into a complete clusterfuck. Well done, kudos all around.

        • Tom Lord says:

          Hmm. What census tables are you looking at?

          I spot checked Union City.

          The most recent one year estimate I see from 2012 says the rental vacancy rate in Union City was over 7%, albeit with a very high margin of error. The 5 year estimate for 2012 was over 4%.

          http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP04/1600000US0681204

          Everyone thinks "surely there's some cheap apartment complex out in the suburbs all these kids could live in so I don't have to consider ever having my views change", and everybody is dead fucking wrong.

          Lots of comparatively good priced units down there in a quick check of Craigslist, too. Go figure.

          • Sigh, serves me right for posting late after a long day; I copied-and-pasted from the wrong row. However, while I botched the actual numbers, the relation between them was about right. Corrected, it looks like:

            Union City: 5.3%
            Fremont: 4.5%
            Milpitas: 3.1%
            Hayward: 6.6%
            San Francisco: 5.4%

            So, still: Union City et al have at best comparable and in several cases lower rental vacancy rates to SF proper.

            And before you ask, the absolute numbers are no better and usually much worse than the ratios: the 2010 estimate for Union City's total float of available rentals was 384. Even assuming those are mostly 2BRs (probably not a safe assumption), that's a grand total of 768 putative brogrammers dealt with -- the best estimates I've seen of how many housing units the bay area needs to build to catch up with the population influx generally start at around the 50,000 mark. Fiddling at the margins while the first standard deviation burns, I'm afraid. (But that's CA politics in a nutshell.)

            I will also note that "but Union city!", as an argument, even if there were some previously un-tapped vein of available housing there, boils down to "new jobseekers in the middle of the worst recession in living memory should volunteer to live in a suburban shithole with terrible amenities so that those who moved to SF twenty years ago can enjoy it free of changes or challenges", which is not an argument I have a lot of time for.

            • Tom Lord says:

              [...] Union City! [...] suburban shithole

              Shrug. It's nice down there, especially if you like it warmer. Some good restaurants in Fremont if that's your bag. If you aren't staying out till the wee hours BART makes an excellent designated driver for excursions to Oakland, Berkeley, or Teh City. Get a roommate or two and/or be at the higher end of the wage-slave scale and you can afford a car and to put lots of your wages into savings. (The latter advice for everyone else, I'm sure you're wise, right?)

              Back in the 1990s it used to be popular with an earlier generation of tech types to rent entire houses just about anywhere down there. You can do things like grill outdoors and host decent size parties.

              The system of bike trails around Fremont and Union City is a blast. Some pretty good parks in the area.

              Get this: grocery shopping down there is pretty easy (especially with a car but you can get by without on the nice flat, well-maintained roads with no rail tracks to kill you). Grocery stores down there are big, big places with nice wide isles and relatively little insanity among the shoppers.

              Except for the excellent ethnic grocers. They're smaller and comfy.

              You generally won't be panhandled or have to deal with street craziness.

              There are some bars and clubs down there, especially if you don't mind hanging out with grown-ups.

              It's a little bit tricky to get in the habit of spending stupid amounts at a cafe every day.

              You can get a table at a nice diner on a weekend without waiting on the sidewalk forever.

              Can living down there get you laid? I don't know. Do smart choices and lots of disposable cash impress the prospects?

              If you need constant stimulation from without, a longer commute, a more cut-throat social scene 24/7, and don't mind burning your cash in big, pretty, flaming piles then for sure The City is for you.

              If you want lots of time and choices about how to spend it, and some bigger savings....

              I dunno, maybe things have changed that much that this is no longer true but it sure looks like its still true from where I sit.

              Meanwhile, yeah, the tech busses in The City help keep at least some workers living fat paycheck to fat paycheck. They help workers spend much more time in work-related activity. They make it harder for workers to change jobs. If it weren't for that they wouldn't bother.

            • Tom Lord says:

              Also, and sorry to run-on so but: there is no "catching up" to the population influx.

              If the housing stock froze then economic growth based on population growth would freeze with it. For example, the next great biotech lab would locate in Texas instead -- stuff like that.

              If the housing stock grows, it is because the local industries will keep importing more people at at least that rate.

              In other words, the regional population size is a policy choice, but the vacancy rate is not.

              If developers were poised to build housing stock that would be enough to cause the vacancy rate to zoom up (hence lowering prices) -- the developers would stop building and their investors would spend that money elsewhere.

              The policy of building and building and building to encourage tech to keep importing wage slave drones is unwise because when that bubble bursts it leaves a mess and, meanwhile, municipalities have thrashed their own state and their incumbent communities.

              All that talk you hear about how high housing prices means we need to build more to lower housing prices? That's BS propaganda from the rentiers, their tools, and their dupes. There's nothing in it for you and me or the cities.

              • If the housing stock froze then economic growth based on population growth would freeze with it. For example, the next great biotech lab would locate in Texas instead -- stuff like that.

                This is a falsifiable hypothesis. Unfortunately, we've already falsified it: San Francisco built under a thousand net new housing units 2010-2012 (I don't know the numbers offhand for the peninsula/eastbay burbclaves, but feel safe assuming that they were similarly awful), which is as close to a freeze as makes no nevermind, and somehow people kept moving in, because there were jobs to be had, as compared to just about everywhere else in the country. Bluntly, if Google's growth were constrained by local housing availability, they would decamp for Texas.

                (Also, if an influx of job seekers is such a terrible thing, why is it better that it happen to Texas than to you? I mean besides the fact that it's always nice when your problem becomes someone else's problem.)

                And while real estate developers are nobody's favorite creatures, I remain intrinsically suspicious about any position which waves the bloody shirt about their alleged depredations while remaining discreetly quiet about how the status quo hugely benefits incumbent property owners. There has never been a better time to be a landlord in SF, and disasters ranging from Prop M in the 80s to Prop B this year ensure that the gravy train is only accellerating.

                Anyway, as noted above, this is no longer directly my fight, so I'm just spitballing from the gallery. I look forward to finding out whether another 10 years of anti-development activism improves the situation. I have my popcorn ready.

                • Tom Lord says:

                  This is a falsifiable hypothesis

                  It is. The link below examines many cities over multiple decades and establishes that:

                  1) If an urban region is in economic decline then both housing prices and wages are apt to fall. The population will fall much more slowly than the rate of economic decline, depending on the durability of the housing.

                  2) Suppose an urban region is growing economically, like ours. Then:

                  2a) If development regulation is very liberal, population will tend to grow as quickly as housing is built. Wages and housing prices won't be much affected.

                  2b) If development regulation is very strict, population will tend to stabilize but both wages and housing prices will tend to rise.

                  http://www.nber.org/papers/w11097.pdf

                  There is no way for a region like ours to "build our way" to more affordable housing.

                  We could separately talk about why that makes perfect sense given the decisions that face tech industrialists and real estate speculators.

                  if an influx of job seekers is such a terrible thing, why is it better that it happen to Texas than to you?

                  Texas has lots of room. A part of the country with a more secure water supply would be even better.

                  Bluntly, if Google's growth were constrained by local housing availability, they would decamp for Texas.

                  That's fine.

                  • So, stipulating that the nber paper is gospel, we have a choice between quickly increasing population and rough housing price stability versus slowly increasing population and rapidly rising housing costs and you think it is very clever and proper that we pick... the latter? Okay then. Let me know how that plan works out.

                    Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure the bay area has managed the hat trick of rising population and rising housing prices over the last 5-7 years, so I'm not so sure I'll actually buy that stipulation.

                  • Tom Lord says:

                    we have a choice between quickly increasing population and rough housing price stability versus slowly increasing population and rapidly rising housing costs

                    No, that's not quite what the paper implies.

                    The paper implies that if we have great liberalized zoning and developers want to build many units then that will be because some sector(s) is growing by greatly increasing its workforce.

                    The paper additionally implies that we have no zoning policy choice that can make market-rate housing more affordable.

                    The paper does not imply that our zoning policy determines whether we have income-based or population-based economic growth (or any economic growth at all).

                    The paper does argue that tight zoning can cause a region to miss out on economic growth as measured by regional product (not growth that actually benefits workers).

                    Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure the bay area has managed the hat trick of rising population and rising housing prices over the last 5-7 years,

                    Right, it's somewhere in the middle of the two patterns at the extremes.

                    By the way, software techies should watch out in this sense: Software companies tend to have very high revenue to payroll ratios. Investors like this. During periods of high revenue growth, the executives of such companies can play a nasty game. The nasty game is raise the non-productive head-count along with revenue. Investors and analysts are largely mystified by what people do in these companies and which jobs are productive and which are not so initially this increased head-count just looks like the executive knows what it's doing and is increasing value by wisely reinvesting gross profit. Then later when revenue growth tapers the executive can start cutting lots of accumulated deadweight from the payroll. Since they took the precaution of hiring lots of useless people there's plenty to cut. The cuts keep the revenue to headcount ratio looking great. Investors and analysts are pleased.

                    So if you work at one of these companies its one of those "look to your left; now look to your right; in X years at least one of the three of you will be out of here."

      • jwb says:

        Did you know that Google and other companies also run buses to Union City?

        • Tom Lord says:

          So?

          • jwb says:

            I'm just trying to find out why it might be OK for Google to shuttle people to their homes in Union City while not being OK for SF.

            • Tom Lord says:

              I'm just trying to find out why it might be OK for Google to shuttle people to their homes in Union City while not being OK for SF.

              Nobody here has argued that it is OK for Google to run their private shuttles in Union City.

              When you brought up shuttles to Union City it was a non-sequitor (hence: "so?").

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> <img src="" width="" height="" style=""> <object data="" type="" width="" height=""> <param name="" value=""> <embed src="" type="" width="" height=""> <blink> <tt> <u>, or *italics*.