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The Wheels on the (Tech) Bus

Look out, Manhattan, here we come!  With the once-mysterious giant gleaming white buses now embroiled in local controversy, San Francisco is becoming the national poster city for sky-high housing prices and income disparity.
The shiny commute buses used by Google, Facebook, Genentech and Apple have been cruising around the city for years now, generally using public bus stops to load and unload their valuable workers.  Sometimes, though, a bus isn't just a bus.  These buses represent a growing disparity between the haves and the have nots.  The buses have multiplied and so has the outrage.
At the simplest level, it's outrageous that the city has been letting these corporate buses use public bus stops for free.  I get a fat ticket if I park in a bus stop, why shouldn't Google and the others?  But really, this is about much more than a commute bus program.  The corporate bus controversy is really just the beginning of a conversation San Francisco, and every other city, must have about income disparities, affordable housing, the perils of privatization and livable cities.  Enjoy the cartoon, like, comment and share it with the other white bus in the lane next to you!  And as usual, you can find more links to the stories behind the cartoon in the "News Behind the Toons" section below.

Comments (9)

  • Kevin Smith

    Kevin Smith

    06 February 2014 at 14:43 |
    The same people that cackle about their right to subsidized rent via rent control ( on the backs of private owners) get all bent out of shape about private buses using the bus stops, after they are BUSSES! How dare they use the bus stops!


  • ijuinkun


    07 February 2014 at 01:44 |
    It is my understanding (as a person who lives in the San Francisco area) that these private busses were subjected to quite a bit less scrutiny and oversight by the city government (and the voters) than things such as rent control typically are. The complaint about using public bus stops at all is less the issue than the fact that they are pushing the city busses out of them--i.e. city busses are forced to stop in the middle of the traffic lane or pass over a stop entirely when they encounter one of these private busses, and so a lot of people think that the private busses should have to yield to city busses whenever both are in contention for the same spot.

    Second, how much are the private bus operators paying to get permission to use the public infrastructure (the bus stops)? This is not transparent to the public, and leads to suspicion that it is an undisclosed subsidy to the private bus operators.

    Third, those people who take the public busses see this as a big "Ha Ha losers!" statement by those who take the private busses. Note the part in the video where it says that those who ride the private busses pay less than those who ride the public busses, as well as the fact that riding the private busses is limited to employees of certain companies. It's the "ha ha you aren't allowed to ride this bus suckers!" aspect that annoys people the most--if it were simply a matter of "you can ride it at a premium price while employees get a big discount" then people would be less upset, but the complete exclusivity smells too much like "keep the rabble out of our party".


  • Derek  Bolander

    Derek Bolander

    07 February 2014 at 06:53 |
    The nimby's at the bus stop whine all day long, all day long, all day long,
    The nimby's at the bus stop whine all day long, all from their ivory tower.

    They cock block new housing development at every turn, every turn, every turn.
    They cock block new housing development at every turn, at every city council meeting.

    The Nimby's in SF happily accept rent control for themselves, rent control for themselves, rent control for themselves.
    The Nimby's in SF happily accept rent control for themselves while driving up prices for tech workers!

    The Nimby's demand for less cars on the street, cars on the street, cars on the street.
    The Nimby's demand less cars on the street and then whine when private buses replace these cars.

    The techies on the bus pay taxes just like Nimby's, just like Nimyby's, just like Nimby's.
    The techies on the bus pay taxes just like Nimby's, but aren't allowed to use the same spaces throughout the town.


  • Yasmin Beers

    Yasmin Beers

    07 February 2014 at 07:00 |
    So let me get this straight these tech buses are expected to pay a fee to SF to pick people up for work, but if the buses were discontinued then no one would have a problem with the 30-40 additional cars per bus that would be added back to the road that wouldn't pay a fee?


  • Eduardo Egbert

    Eduardo Egbert

    07 February 2014 at 17:14 |
    Yeah, I don't understand this article at all.

    Busses are mass transportation, which is good for the environment and getting traffic off the roads, which means less traffic in cities. Good stuff.

    The SF public transportation has zero public buses that go to said companies (or even near said companies). Other public transport, like BART, doesn't really get you very close either (and costs a lot, and is unpleasant in general--like no food or drink allowed). It's not too bad from the city itself, but from somewhere like the East Bay, it's like a 1.5 hour minimum travel time one way and costs a lot.

    I'm sorry SF and surrounding areas can't get their public transit sH*t together. Manhattan has WONDERFUL public transportation with its subway system, buses, trains, etc., and it's comparatively cheap, too. I really don't see company buses catching on there, because there's simply zero need for them.

    Yet somehow these buses are a sign of income inequality and problems with housing costs? Umm . . . yeah, right!

    Disclaimer: I work for one of the mentioned companies, although I do not take these buses.


  • pete


    07 February 2014 at 18:23 |
    Yes. You've totally thought that through. A fee to use public infrastructure to companies making billions and people all making six figures will immediately make them run out and buy cars and commute. You could charge each rider $1,000 a year and it wouldn't make one person want to deal with having a car in SF and commuting every day. This ignores the fact that these buses provide a means for people to live in SF that would normally have found housing closer to their place of employment. Driving up rents and people out.


  • Frank M Hansen

    Frank M Hansen

    09 February 2014 at 17:15 |
    Your work is amazing! Wonderful satire. The writing and animation is just perfect. Love it.


  • casey


    21 February 2014 at 17:26 |
    The buses are low-hanging fruit in the argument against the tech bubble which is jacking up the cost of living in SF. They are the least important issue at hand. Housing laws, tax loops, evictions and subsidies all being more worthy targets for the valid outrage. The fact that they cost a dollar instead of two makes sense. When you pay 2 bucks for muni(I ride everyday), you are paying for vehicle upkeep and labor, which is paid for privately in the case of the tech buses. Equating Native-Americans to displaced renters is hyperbole, and exploitive. I love these cartoons, and usually agree with them; but this one lowers the bar.


  • James


    25 February 2014 at 21:30 |
    I thought mass transit was a good for reducing traffic, pollution and global warming. Social inequality takes higher priority I guess, and it's really about the salaries of those riding inside the bus. However, I work for a tech company and I studied in college and work hard for my above average pay. What did people like me do that's so wrong in the eyes of the far left?


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