San Francisco to Tax Google, Facebook for Using City Bus Stops

The Wi-Fi-equipped commuter shuttle buses offered up by tech giants such as Google, Yahoo, Apple and Facebook are now going to be taxed based on the number of stops they make in city bus zones.

learn more about Laura Entis

By Laura Entis

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Wi-Fi-equipped shuttle buses, which ferry tech employees from San Francisco to their jobs in Silicon Valley, are just one perk offered up by companies like Google, Yahoo, Apple and Facebook. For some locals, these buses have become a tangible symbol representing the aggressive wave of gentrification sweeping through large swathes of San Francisco and Oakland. Now, almost as if in response, the city of San Francisco has outlined plans to tax the tech companies if they want to continue offering their workers private transportation.

On Monday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced an 18-month pilot program where shuttle companies will be charged based on the number of stops they make in city bus zones, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

If the program passes (it needs the approval of the city transportation authority, and it looks like it will get it), shuttle operators will need a city permit to continue using public bus stops. At $1 per day per stop, the fees are intentionally low (they are limited by state law to only cover the costs of the pilot program). The mayor's office estimates it will bring in $1.6 million in revenue, all of which will be used to pay for the program.

Related: Facebook's Luxury Housing Complex Is a Great Way to Never Leave Work

Other requirements will also go into effect if the program passes: permit holders must yield to city buses, avoid certain streets, and provide ridership and location data for enforcement and program adjustments.

This deal between the city and tech companies including Google and Facebook has been in the works for some time, The Wall Street Journal reported, but a recent string of protests in the last month (including activists smashing a bus window in Oakland, and multiple instances of protesters physically blocking buses) have escalated the need for a new policy.

Proponents of the private buses say the buses cut emission levels and congestion, while critics and activists say they are just another example of the technology industry forcing San Francisco to offer up overly generous policies (including large tax breaks for companies like Zynga and Twitter).

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner, whose district includes parts of the Mission -- an increasingly trendy area of San Francisco, where some of the bus protests have taken place -- warned that lashing out against tech workers was not the right approach to address the issue of gentrification. "We need to stop politicizing people's ability to get to work," the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wiener saying at a news conference to announce the pilot program.

Related: The 7 Hottest Startup Scences in the US (Infographic)

Laura Entis
Laura Entis is a reporter for's Venture section.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.


After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.

Author Karen Inglis breaks down the strategies and tactics you need to generate awareness and sales for your self-published book.

Business News

Jake Paul and Lindsay Lohan Fined $400,000 for 'Illegally Touting' Crypto

The SEC just disclosed that eight celebrities agreed to a massive settlement without admitting guilt.


Entice Customers to Make Additional and Larger Purchases Using These Two Tactics

With transparency, permission, and an eye on the customer's perception of value, you can knock both cross-selling and upselling out of the park.