new poll: strong support for commuter shuttles

The Bay Area Council today (Jan. 20) released results of a new poll that shows strong support among San Francisco voters for commuter shuttles, with 62 percent in favor of letting them operate in the city and 83 percent in agreement that shuttles are helping get cars off the road, relieve traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.

“There are a lot of Presidential candidates who wish they had these kinds of poll numbers,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “San Francisco voters clearly embrace the positive benefits that commuter shuttles are providing to the city, by removing millions of car trips a year from roads and highways and the awful congestion and pollution they would generate. San Francisco’s shuttles program has become a model for other cities around the world whose leaders regularly ask us how they can duplicate the success we’ve had here. We should be doing everything we can to ensure the commuter shuttles program, with reasonable regulation, thrives and flourishes.”

Today’s poll results come as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is preparing to consider an appeal on Jan. 26 of a unanimous decision by the SF Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) in November to create the Commuter Shuttles Permit Program.

View the poll results>>

Supervisors may be interested to learn from the poll that in addition to the 62 percent of voters that support commuter shuttles and the 83 percent that said shuttles help get cars off the road, 69 percent said the shuttles provide a valuable service by supplementing overloaded public transit systems connecting San Francisco to Silicon Valley and the South Bay. Another 75 percent said shuttles offer commuters an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

The poll also found that a whopping 72 percent of voters support regulating commuter shuttles that use MUNI stops for loading and unloading passengers. And, that support is coming from voters who might have the most interest in making sure the shuttles don’t interfere with MUNI. Of those surveyed, 58 percent said they ride SF MUNI and just 4 percent said they ride an employee shuttle. Regulations approved as part of the Permit Program cap the overall number of stops shuttles can use, remove the largest shuttles from small neighborhood streets, tighten air quality standards, and require shuttles to pay for infrastructure improvements to high-capacity shuttle stops.

Keeping a lid on air pollution is a big priority for San Francisco voters, with 88 percent saying shuttles should have strict air quality controls. The vast majority of shuttle buses are newer vehicles that use engine technologies designed to limit harmful emissions, and the approved regulations would tighten exhaust requirements even further.

The Bay Area Council helped develop the commuter shuttles program after years of discussion among individual shuttle operators and the city failed to produce results. The Council convened many of the largest shuttle operators and over the course of a year worked to provide SFMTA with the data it needed to design an innovative pilot program for testing how the shuttles could best co-exist with the city’s other transportation systems and reduce their impact on neighborhoods. In August 2014, the SFMTA launched the 18-month Commuter Shuttles Pilot Program to gather more data about the commuter shuttles system. The $1.5 million program was paid for by shuttle vendors. The program formed the basis for the Commuter Shuttles Permit Program approved by the SFMTA board November 2015.

The citywide telephone poll of 500 likely November 2016 voters was conducted by Oakland-based EMC Research from Jan. 5-12, and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

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