Tech industry shuttles have become a symbol of economic inequality and gentrification in San Francisco, sparking a variety of protests since late last year.
Now, activists are trying to hold city leaders accountable for letting those shuttles use public bus stops, and allowing them to operate without regard for their environmental impact on the city and its residents. A coalition of activist groups is suing the city, county, board of supervisors, the local transit agency, the shuttle companies, and Mayor Ed Lee himself, for creating a pilot program that charges bus companies just $1 per stop and granting it a special exemption from California’s environmental review law.
From the get-go, San Francisco protesters treated the pilot progam with scorn. When every single passenger who wants to ride a public bus has to pay $2, it might not seem fair that a entire busload of well-paid tech workers should get to ride for a single dollar per stop. It seemed that the city had found a way to legalize an illegal practice, in their eyes, by charging a token amount. (Other vehicles stopping at bus stops face hefty fines.) But the heart of this latest lawsuit is that the city may also have unfairly exempted the program from the very environmental review that might have found fault with the idea.
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