Activists sue San Francisco over ‘Google buses’

A shuttle to the Google campus loads passengers in San Francisco.
(Liz Hafalia / San Francisco Chronicle)

There appears to be no prospect of peace in San Francisco when it comes to the parade of giant, corporate shuttles rumbling through the streets every day.

On Thursday, a coalition of local activists filed a lawsuit asking a judge to prevent corporate shuttles run by companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google from using public bus stops.

A city transportation agency reached a settlement with the companies this year that let them continue using the stops as part of a pilot program. In exchange, the companies agreed to pay $1.5 million in fees.

The community groups appealed that decision to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who rejected their request in early April.


As a result, the Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit, SEIU Local 1021 and other local activists filed the lawsuit Thursday in state court. A copy of the suit is here.

In the lawsuit, the group said the city failed to conduct a proper environmental impact study before approving the pilot program.

Over the past year, the large, luxury shuttles have become a symbolic rallying point for protesters who are angry about soaring rents and evictions that have rattled this city. The large influx of tech workers has been blamed by many locals for speeding up gentrification.

“We know that these buses are having devastating impacts on our neighborhoods, driving up rents and evictions of longtime San Francisco residents,” Sara Shortt of the tenant advocacy group Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, one of the organizations involved in filing the lawsuit, told the San Francisco Examiner. “We’ve protested in the streets and taken our plea to City Hall to no avail. We hope to finally receive justice in a court of law.”