Recent protests of employee commute shuttles that have captured headlines around the globe do not appear to reflect the views of a large majority of San Francisco voters. A new poll by EMC Research released today finds that San Francisco voters instead strongly support commuter shuttles. Respondents overwhelmingly agree that the shuttles provide strong environmental and traffic benefits, think more companies should offer shuttles, and think they fill important transportation gaps. Voters want regulation of the shuttles, but not regulation that hinders their operation or expansion.
The telephone poll of 500 likely San Francisco voters found that, overall, 57 percent have a favorable view of the shuttles, and only 18 percent have a negative view. At the same time, 67 percent of voters support allowing commuter shuttles to use a limited number of SF MUNI bus stops, while 70 percent support allowing shuttles as long as they conform to the kinds of regulatory measures that are included in an 18-month pilot shuttles program currently underway in the city.
“Given the many news stories that theorize that San Franciscans are rebelling against the technology boom and shuttle buses, we were surprised to see the opposite is true – San Franciscans indeed embrace tech and the buses,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which sponsored the study. “It’s also very clear that voters agree with the efforts by Mayor Lee and his administration to manage and regulate the shuttles. San Franciscans understand the economic and environmental benefits the commuter shuttles and technology sector overall provide to the city and the region, and want them to stay.”
Among the key findings of the poll by Oakland-based EMC Research, which included a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points, are:
• 84 percent of voters think commuter shuttles help get cars off the road, relieve congestion and avoid air pollution
• 81 percent say shuttles encourage commuters to use environmentally conscious transportation means
• 74 percent say the commuter shuttles help supplement existing public transit
• 72 percent support charging shuttles on a cost-recovery basis to use MUNI bus zones
• 70 percent support conducting a pilot study to help the city craft permanent regulations
An estimated 35,000 San Francisco residents rely on the shuttles to commute to school and work daily. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority estimates that the shuttles eliminate at least 327,000 single-passenger car trips and 11,000 tons of carbon annually.
The Bay Area Council helped convene tech and other companies that run shuttles in San Francisco to work with city transportation planners and Mayor Ed Lee in developing a pilot program for the safe and efficient operation of the buses. Opponents of the shuttles, alleging they are causing environmental harm, have appealed the program to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on April 1.
The poll also delved into voters’ attitudes about the city’s rapid economic growth and the role of the technology industry in driving the expansion. A sizeable 79 percent of voters have a favorable view of the technology sector, consistent with the 69 percent of voters who said creating jobs should be San Francisco’s top priority.
Voters by a wide margin don’t think that the shuttles or the technology industry are to blame for broader issues related to housing affordability, among other problems. Among other key findings from the poll related are:
• 67 percent of voters disagree that commuter shuttles are ruining the character of San Francisco
• 66 percent oppose banning shuttles from MUNI bus stops
• 63 percent disagree that commuter shuttles are a symbol of San Francisco’s problems
• 62 percent support more companies using employee shuttles
“Voters indisputably support growing the economy and creating jobs in San Francisco, and believe the technology sector is playing an important role in doing that,” Wunderman said. “It would be irresponsible and insensitive to minimize the problems that have come with the rapid economic growth we’re seeing, including a dire lack of affordable housing, but a vast majority of San Franciscans think that demonizing an entire industry and class of workers is not the answer to those problems. The region must create more housing to meet growing demand across all income levels, and the Bay Area Council is focusing on ways we can do that.”
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About EMC Research
Founded in 1989, EMC Research is a public opinion and market research firm serving a broad range of clients. Our researchers have been involved in thousands of public opinion studies, ranging from political polling and public policy research to market share and customer satisfaction surveys. EMC Research has offices in Oakland, Seattle, and Columbus, serving a broad base of clients across the country and around the world. With a full-time staff of 15 professionals, our firm is large enough to efficiently handle large-scale research projects, but small enough to provide personalized attention to each of our clients.