Things change, people change. Many believe it is time to embrace more change. Adapting to change is something one cannot avoid in my opinion, but it’s easier when changes don’t mean backtracking. A story from San Francisco highlights that more tech workers, who were recently shuttling to work from the city to the suburbs, are now commuting alone in cars — after San Francisco cut shuttle stops in the city.
In 2013, Wired published one of the backstories “Mapping Silicon Valley’s Gentrification Problem Through Corporate Shuttle Routes.” It noted that rich tech professionals were coming into San Francisco and gentrifying the city, and that part of this was driven by corporate shuttles that tech giants based in Silicon Valley sent into the city to pick up workers. This made living in San Francisco more convenient for the tech elite. In short, Eric Rodenbeck, who wrote this article, called it “reverse sprawl.”
There has been strong backlash, as less wealthy San Francisco residents who relied on public transit came to despise corporate shuttles using their stops and gentrifying their city.
There has also been backlash from wealthy residents of the neighborhoods where these tech professionals live, with them not appreciating the presence of shuttle buses on their streets.
San Francisco Chronicle indicates another change in response to this, a compromise: “The agency cut some stops — there are now 110 shuttle stops instead of 125.”
The outcome, however, is that many shuttle travelers are not into the extra walk to a commuter shuttle. They choose to drive to work in the suburbs now instead. This story considers it the fault of the people since they are apparently not willing to walk a few more blocks to catch the shuttle. Nonetheless, the effect is there: more people are driving again, which degrades air quality, contributes to global warming, increases noise pollution in the city, and has an overall negative effect on quality of life. Even if it’s a modest effect, given the number of drivers involved, it’s a step backward in regard to the issues just mentioned.
The San Francisco Chronicle editorial validated and explained the decision by the Municipal Transportation Agency take on the grumbling or direct complaints of the residents: Their concern is not about decreasing car trips.
Is this embracing backwards change? Adina Levin, a Menlo Park transportation commissioner, notes, “While some people don’t like (the buses), they really help to take commuters off the road. It’s certainly better to have commuters in a bus than to have individual people driving in their cars emitting gasses and pollution and (causing) congestion on the street.”
Electric vehicles are one answer to air pollution and quality of life. So are fewer cars on the road. It is unfortunate to see a progressive city like San Francisco moving backwards on the latter.