A key decision has been made in San Francisco after protesters have been repeatedly blocking employee buses operated by technology giants including Apple and Google. The shuttle bus protest is part of a sustained backlash against what some see as a widening inequality for residents in the region.
The luxury SF shuttles have sparked outrage, as it stands as a symbol of young, highly-paid employees of technology companies that have moved into the city and driven up house prices beyond the grasp of local residents.
Reuters spoke to one of the SF shuttle bus protesters who addressed the crowd by loudspeaker. The person said: “We want the ruling class, which is becoming the tech class, to listen to our voices and listen to the voices of folks that are being displaced.”
The demonstrations in the shuttle bus protest continued on Wednesday ahead of a meeting of a hearing by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation at City Hall. Peaceful protesters held up transport for Google and Facebook staff; delaying commuters, crowding streets, and holding up traffic. Police were deployed to control around 100 shuttle bus protesters, speaking out about rent prices and evictions and warning of a two-tier system in the city.
The SFMTA currently allows the commuter shuttle buses use its MUNI stops free of charge and, amid unrelenting protests, has been scrambling desperately for a compromise. At the meeting a pilot programme is reported to have been passed within the last hour. This will signal the start of charging technology firms that run employee shuttle buses for using the city’s stops.
Social media reports from the meeting confirm that the proposal has been approved:
— Steve Rhodes (@tigerbeat) January 22, 2014
While this may seem like a small-scale, transport technicality, it is symbolic of a wider sense of community displacement amongst San Francisco residents.
As reported in TechCrunch, the SF shuttle buses are:
“just one element of a perfect storm brewing in San Francisco — tech workers vs. the rest of the city… The activist argument is that if tech companies don’t have to pay taxes (or fines), they should somehow be responsible for protecting the community in other ways.”
This decision may placate the shuttle bus protesters to a point, but $1 may not be seen as fair compensation for the 35,000 tech shuttle bus boardings a day. Within the changing face of San Francisco, this issue is sure to be a continuing clash within the city.