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San Francisco taken to court over 'Google Buses'

Activists attempt to stop low-cost tech shuttles for Silicon Valley employees

San Francisco taken to court over 'Google Buses'
According to Mashable, the tech companies already utilise city bus stops as a way to transport employees around San Francisco and to company headquarters in the Valley, sometimes as far as 50 miles away.

A lawsuit has been filed by a group of activists in the city of San Francisco in an attempt to stop a tech shuttle bus that will allow Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple and Google to use public bus stops to pick up and drop off employees for a small fee, mashable reported.

According to California Vehicle Code 22500, it is illegal for private vehicles to use the public bus stops, a law that has been ignored by police and elected officials, according to the lawsuit.

According to the state law, any new transportation project also requires an Environmental Impact Report in order to determine how transportation changes may impact the local community. The lawsuit comes exactly one month after San Francisco's board of supervisors voted 8-2 in favour of moving forward with the pilot programme without first completing an EIR.

The 18-month pilot programme, which is scheduled to start in July, will charge buses $1 per stop, per day to use public bus stops and according to reports, was approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority's board of directors in January as a response to public outrage over the tech shuttles.

The $1 fee has been criticised by activists for being too low as public transport in San Francisco costs $2 per rider, per trip.

Plaintiffs in the case include the Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit and Service Employees International Union Local Union 1021, who claim that what the city is doing with the pilot programme violates state laws.

According to mashable, the tech shuttles in San Francisco are seen by opponents as a symbol of the gentrification taking place in the city. According to protesters, rents have risen dramatically in neighbourhoods near these shuttle stops, forcing lower and middle income families out of their homes.

According to the lawsuit, the shuttles also cause delays in public transportation and pose a threat to pedestrian and bike safety.

Supporters of the tech shuttles argue that they keep thousands of cars off the road by providing transportation to employees who would otherwise have to drive.

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