Corporate Shuttles Thrive in the Bay Area’s Traffic Jam

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Each workday, software engineer Edoardo Conti rides Facebook Inc.’s shuttle bus from his San Francisco neighborhood to the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park. At an hour or more in crawling traffic, it’s a tedious ritual. But were it not for the shuttle, the carless Conti says he might not have taken a job at Facebook at all.

The Bay Area has a mishmash of lackluster public transit options, including trains that don’t service many of the places people live and work and buses that are slow and often overcrowded. So private options have emerged: ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft; scooter and bike rentals such as Bird, Lime, and Jump; and corporate shuttles from the likes of Facebook, Genentech, and Google that ferry workers to their campuses. A Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority study counted more than 100 shuttles operating in the area daily.

While a recent report found car ownership in San Francisco grew 6 percent from 2012 to 2017, researchers suggested that part of that rise could have been spurred by buyers intending to use vehicles for ride-hailing, along with population growth and an influx of affluent workers. Over the same period, the number of car-free or “car-light” households—ones with fewer cars than drivers—increased in San Francisco by 10 percent. Other cities with heavy Uber and Lyft use also saw jumps in car-light households. “San Francisco public transportation is inconvenient or kind of gross,” Conti says. Without these new sharing options, he says he’d “probably move to New York.”

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