You don't have to live in San Francisco to know about the controversy surrounding tech giants like Google and Facebook and their impact on the city. One of the biggest points of contention has been the buses — every day, double-decker buses from many tech companies come into San Francisco to swoop up about 35,000 employees and shuttle them to offices in the city and the heart of Silicon Valley (about an hour's drive south).
The issue is that for years, the tech companies have been using city-owned bus stops for free without any regulation. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) board finally met to rule on a proposed pilot program that would would change all that.
The details? Let companies like Google use 200+ bus stops around the city as shuttle stops and charge them $1 per bus per stop. That would amount to about $80,000 a year for medium-sized companies and more than $100,000 for larger ones. They would also need to avoid narrow streets, display placards to identify which company they belong to, and use GPS systems so SFMTA can track where the buses are going.
Many people at the hearing spoke out in favor and against the buses and the city's proposal. The buses reduce the number of cars on the road, said some. Yeah, but that fee is way too low, others chimed in, noting that a ticket to ride the city bus is $2 per person, more than the shuttles would be charged for the many people boarding at each stop. They're just too dangerous and they delay the public bus service, various people said.
After more then three hours of discussion, the SFMTA board voted to approve the plan; the 18-month program is expected to launch in July.
We want to know: where do you stand on the debate?