November 18, 2013

Banning Tour Buses From Around Alamo Square While Allowing The Big Tech Shuttles To Roll. For Now.


On the agenda for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors tomorrow, a hearing to consider the two proposed options for restricting the operation of tour buses within San Francisco’s historic Alamo Square neighborhood which currently averages about a bus every 7.5 minutes during the day.

Option 1 would prohibit commercial vehicles with nine or more seats on all streets north of Fell Street, east of Divisadero Street, south of Golden Gate Avenue and west of Webster Street and move the existing tour bus loading zone on the north side of Fell Street just west of Divisadero to the north side of Fell Street just east of Pierce:


Option 2 is the same as Option 1 except it would allow enclosed tour buses to drive, but not stop or slow for pictures, on Hayes Street between Divisadero and Webster.

The Alamo Square Neighborhood Association plans to be out in force to ask for Option 1 to be adopted while also voicing their concern that tour buses will not pull all the way up to the curb at the relocated loading zone, effectively blocking a lane of traffic on Fell Street.

Fear not tech commuters, employer shuttle buses which currently make up about a third of the commercial bus traffic in the area above would be exempted from the proposed restrictions. That being said...

UPDATE: A plugged-in reader adds: "I sat in on this meeting, twice, with people who live in Alamo Square. I assure you that association doesn't want the tech buses either, but as this is two separate issues, the tech bus problem will make it to the board eventually."

First Published: November 18, 2013 2:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

How can the City prohibit equally large buses from Alamo Square streets based solely on whether their passengers are tourists or high-dollar tech employees?

Posted by: Jackson at November 18, 2013 3:10 PM

^ It probably has to do with their operational frequency. The tech buses are rush hour only service whereas the tour buses run all day long and about 8 per hour.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at November 18, 2013 3:15 PM

Heh, heh...apparently these NIMBY's know which side their toast is buttered!

Posted by: poor.ass.millionaire (formerly 49yo hipster) at November 18, 2013 3:42 PM

The tech companies have better lobbyists/allies in city hall than the tourist bus companies. Unless they too start bankrolling Ed Lee's campaign fund.
Maybe it's because they quietly pickup/drop and avoid using loud speaker PA systems.

Posted by: RonMonster at November 18, 2013 3:56 PM

Keep in mind that many other picturesque areas of the city already prevent tour buses. That's part of the reason they're so pretty.

Posted by: Morpheus at November 18, 2013 3:57 PM

I sat in on this meeting, twice, with people who live in Alamo Square. I assure you that association doesn't want the tech buses either, but as this is two separate issues, the tech bus problem will make it to the board eventually.

The frequency of buses is about every 5 minutes with the tech shuttles.

Posted by: Mark Ballew at November 18, 2013 4:23 PM

If they're going to put the bus drop-off point at the corner of Fell and Pierce, they should put ambulance parking at the corner of Hayes and Pierce.

Posted by: BobN at November 18, 2013 5:03 PM

What a bunch of self entitled complainers.

Posted by: Futurist at November 18, 2013 5:09 PM

This would be like living on Marina Blvd and complaining about pedestrians, joggers, kite flyers and bike riders. Surely these people knew what they were getting into? With all the beautiful homes and attractive neighborhoods the city has to offer, I cannot believe anyone who moves to this spot should be surprised to find tourists and I would rather see bus traffic than rental cars. This is a "Transit First" city after all!

Posted by: anon at November 18, 2013 5:17 PM

Why are the tech busses a problem? Would the NIMBYs of the Alamo Square Association prefer 40-80 cars (that the busses remove from the streets) instead?

Posted by: Peter at November 18, 2013 5:32 PM

The tech buses serve the residents of the neighborhood. Otherwise they obviously wouldn't be there. Oh, I'm sure every neighborhood association has a lot of members who hate their "tech worker" neighbors because they make more money than them, but most are probably smart and neighborly enough to understand that without tech buses you'd just have more cars on the street. Tour buses don't serve the residents. If the tourists were dropping cash at local businesses they'd probably be welcome but that's not the case.

Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at November 18, 2013 5:40 PM

@RonMonster If by lobbyists you mean residents who live in Alamo Square. Why do you think the tech buses are stopping in Alamo square anyway, if there weren't employees there then they wouldn't wan to stop there.

Posted by: RobBob at November 18, 2013 5:44 PM

Some of these buses are horribly maintained and spew nasty fumes and exhaust well beyond anything normal. They should exempt / encourage zero emission buses and prohibit all others.

Posted by: eddy at November 18, 2013 6:01 PM

Why not remove daytime parking from one side of the square for the buses?

Posted by: wc1 at November 19, 2013 12:17 AM

In reply to WC1, the SFMTA proposed taking all the parking spots on the south side of Fulton Street, next to Alamo Square, between Scott and Steiner streets and this was quickly shot down by the neighborhood.

Currently, the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus stop is located on the NW corner of Fell and Divisadero street which is a four block walk from Hayes and Steiner streets. The latest proposal (Option 1) is make the stops closer to the square by moving to the NE corner of Fell at Pierce Street.

Posted by: Jackson at November 19, 2013 8:53 AM

I live near Alamo Square and always wondered why, apart from probably being expensive AND detrimental to the trees, they don't put in underground parking garage under the square to alleviate parking problems?

Granted, there wouldn't be that many parking and congestion issues if we didn't have busses (Google/tour) in the first place, but cars aren't exactly going away, and SF sure could do with one or two additional parking spaces, no?

Posted by: MS at November 20, 2013 11:08 AM

MS, I think you answered your own question as to constructing a parking garage in Alamo Square.

During the day there currently seems to be adequate parking for tourist's cars while residents are away at work. I also have noticed an increase in tourists talking the 5-Fulton bus and getting off at Pierce Street and walking into Alamo Square.

Posted by: Jackson at November 20, 2013 4:26 PM

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