For some time now, San Francisco has seen private shuttles criss-cross their streets during rush hour. We have Bauer busses that ferry the tech elite to their fancy offices on the peninsula, and we have a slew of small companies, all vying to be the third party that the massive tech giants pick once Bauer unionizes proper. This human traffic is not new to people in the City; hop-on hop-off tourist buses have been annoying all in sight for what seems like a millennia. They chug up the steepest of hills, flash photography popping out the windows, running over old people. That has been steady ever since travelers woke up to San Francisco’s beauty. What is loathsome is the separation that happens when the people on the street stare into the bus and see people nothing like themselves…and vice versa.
Why should people hate the shuttles? They take hundreds of cars off the streets every day, cutting down on harmful gases that would be pumped into the atmosphere if those people were forced into their cars. And they also free up valuable space on the public version of the shuttles, MUNI. If the people that rode in the shuttle crammed onto MUNI, there would be even less room. San Franciscans should thank the shuttle program solely due to that.
The reason it is not is its own fault. What the shuttle represents has little to do with its riders. It’s a spit in the face to all the people that get up early and stomp out their door, rushing to get to a job that doesn’t appreciate them enough to buy them free lunch, create a designer workspace in which to harmoniously create the new world of business. Worst of all, the job doesn’t provide them with a school bus to get to school everyday. The shuttle has nothing to do with treating some people better than others, and its up to the the tech workers to feel more important than other people on their own accord. We all know how that goes.
But really, the people on the shuttles should feel a little bad. The average salary for a software engineer in San Francisco is $106,000 a year. I don’t know if that includes benefits or anything else, and that is astounding. Considering the average age of the people that do the coding, I would say that they don’t need a school bus to get them to school everyday. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the median income in the City, which is $84,000 a year. This includes all the regular business people, city managers, doctors, lawyers, baristas, bike messengers, etc. Remove the professionals, and the average wage undoubtedly goes lower. The median income in the Tenderloin (close to Twitter, the NEMA complex, etc,) is a paltry 28,000 a year…. and nsot one single group gets a school bus like the tech workers.
This tells us something very clear; we need to shift the people on the bus. We need to shift the groups so that the poor people get to ride the shuttles, and the tech workers get to ride public transit. This has two distinct benefits, each spanning humanistic and social ranges. First, with the poor getting a perk (maybe for the first time in their lives), they may see their spirits rise. Being depressed emotionally is generally agreed to be a horrible place, and no person should have to deal with that, especially if other people can compensate for it without trouble. Having someone care about them enough to pick them up from where they are at, and drive them to their place of employment would brighten their day. Productivity would rise, bringing positive rewards the the businesses that employed them.
The tech workers, well, they should take the bus. The public bus. The rewards are almost too many to write down. Ego would have to be checked. Having to squash your body into a stranger without knowing the least bit about them can be anxiety provoking, but knowing that the other person probably graduated from a good college might take some of the load off. It’s a great way to learn to deal with personal issues. And you just couldn’t talk about it without lowering yourself to the experience of it all. No one boasts about being lowered a peg or two.
Learning to be humble is invaluable in life, but so is the saving of money. MUNI is cheap compared to buying a car and paying for gas. Even electric cars can set you back. Most electric cars are in the $25,000 range or far above. A monthly MUNI pass is only $77 a month, $924 a year. Far less expensive than a Tesla. This leaves the eco-friendly tech worker more money to stuff into a 401K. See how this works out well for them?
With happier poor people and humbler rich kids, the City is a better place in general. Moving the tech workers off the shuttles and replacing them with the poor just makes so much sense. The shuttle would have to be re-routed to some more industrial or blighted areas, but no matter. They are all contract and beholden to no one. And even better, with the focus on alternative modes of transport, the traffic burden on the City loses its rush hour grasp. With the free time, the rest of the City dwellers could lead more productive lives.
We should all learn to be alternative with the way we think and act, especially in San Francisco. Thinking different with what we are known for.