Tech Shuttle Transit Map Reveals Hidden Logic of the Bernal Heights Real Estate Market

As Bernalwood has previously noted, there are some hidden dynamics at work in the North Bernal real estate market along the Cesar Chavez corridor, where home-price inflation has been fueled in part by the neighborhood’s proximity to the private shuttle-bus routes that carry tech workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley:

[Bernalwood has] heard from realtor sources that this corridor is already attracting interest from [tech-employed] buyers, precisely because it offers convenient access to freeways, public transit, and the arterial routes for those Wi-Fi-equipped, private commuter busses operated by the likes of Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc.

Thanks to the data-visualization wizards at San Francisco’s Stamen Design, we now have a way to actually see this, by way of a fascinating subway-style map that indicates the location of common shuttle bus routes, the companies they represent, and the approximate volume of people they carry:

Several Stamen staff live on Google shuttle routes, so we see those shuttles every day. They’re ubiquitous in San Francisco, but the scale and shape of the network is invisible.

We decided to try some dedicated observation. We sat 18th & Dolores one morning, and counted shuttles. We counted a new shuttle every five minutes or so; several different companies, high frequency. We also researched online sources like Foursquare to look for shuttle movements, and a 2011 San Francisco city report helped fill in gaps and establish basic routes. […]

We enlisted people to go to stops, measure traffic and count people getting off and on and we hired bike messengers to see where the buses went. The cyclists used Field Papers to transcribe the various routes and what they found out, which we recompiled back into a database of trips, stops, companies and frequency. At a rough estimate, these shuttles transport about 35% of the amount of passengers Caltrain moves each day. Google alone runs about 150 trips daily, all over the city.

The result is the map you see above, which I annotated slightly to help the Citizens of Bernalwood orient the routes to our neighborhood. What the map reveals is that — no surprise — Cesar Chavez Blvd. is a major artery for tech shuttles carrying residents of San Francisco’s southern neighborhoods to and from Silicon Valley.

Another handy-dandy map (again, annotated by Bernalwood) reveals the actual location of the shuttle stops on the perimeters of Bernal Heights:

This is fascinating stuff, because while the shuttle buses themselves are highly conspicuous, their representation and scope has, until now, been largely hidden from view. Meanwhile, the impact of all this on Bernal Heights is also quite tangible.

IMAGES: Base maps from Stamen Design and Dotspotter

19 thoughts on “Tech Shuttle Transit Map Reveals Hidden Logic of the Bernal Heights Real Estate Market

  1. My husband takes the FB shuttle – and it looks like it may be missing from your map. (unless I am just not seeing it somehow.) its at Folsom & Cesar Chavez.

    • Interesting. The data comes from observation, not the companies themselves, so not surprising that there might be omissions. Regardless, I just updated the second map image to include Facebook at Chavez/Folsom. Thanks!

  2. … and after they leave SF, they get on the freeway and get in the left lane going exactly the speed limit!

  3. I’m glad to see these shuttle services that take SF’ers to Silicon Valley exist. I made computer games there, while living here, from the early 1980’s to 2001, and wished that the industry and such services would migrate or expand north to SF -which it finally did, and in a big way. I bought my home here in Bernal, in part to ease my commute southward.

  4. Awesome analysis! Thank you; this answers a few questions, like why is our home value heading upward in a tepid market. Thankfully I do not commute, but I’m not selling anyway.

  5. There’s others as well, the Genentech bus for instance, I think it leaves from Glen Park station. Pretty sure anyone can ride it as well. The schedule used to be posted inside the Station agent’s booth.

  6. Another missing stop: Cesar Chavez at Florida/Bryant. It is served by a couple if PayPal busses (which I sometimes take).

  7. it is so messed up that folks commute OUT of the city instead of IN. this is what is wrong with san francisco!! paying extra money to “enjoy” the infrastructure needed for the kind of people who actually use or might actually NEED amenities like public transportation or the ability to walk to work… because it is ‘exciting’ to live in a city. how wasteful! i bet the same people who ride the google bus only buy hyperlocal organic food (a la bi-rite), re-use shopping totes, and landscape their houses with drought-tolerant flora (remember the succulent thief? thats what happens when you put 50 dollar plants in your yard in a CITY).

    i try to make a point to live nowhere NEAR the tech bus routes. these are the kind of neighbors who think your business is their business and will annoy you if you dont take your garbage bins in before 6 pm on collection day and put little ‘no dog pee’ signs in their sidewalk gardens… SIDEWALK, you dont own it! a dog can pee anywhere it wants!! thanks for the housing bubble, too, guys. maybe you should live closer to work… isnt that a thought. go back to the suburbs please and stop wasting fuel and increasing traffic with your stupid private buses, not to mention literally bidding up apartment prices for the renters in this city.

    cultural capital at its worst.

    oh and i dont believe i am alone in feeling this way:

    Private Bus Problem:

    Google Buses Behaving Badly:

    Google Bus aka “Beached Whale” in Noe:

    Maybe They Should Google the word “Accountability”:

    Just take a look at the comments on this article:

    The tech industry killed everything interesting about SF. Here in the new york times:
    “At risk, many say, are the very qualities that have drawn generations of outsiders here, like the city’s diversity and creativity. Families, black residents, artists and others will increasingly be forced across the bridge to Oakland, they warn.”

    If Google Bus Didn’t Exist, Commuters Would Live in The Peninsula OR Google would Expand SF Offices:

    In closing, since I am tired of copying & pasting so man articles:
    “If you have a city that is wall to wall with tech workers, that might be really cool from a tech worker’s standpoint,” said Peter Cohen, director of the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations, a private group representing nonprofit housing developers. “But that is not the kind of rich diversity of population that makes San Francisco the place that it is.”

    Why don’t y’all go ahead with your BlueSeed plans and go live on a tech island off of San Francisco!

    • This is one of the most poorly-reasoned rants against these shuttles and/or your neighbors that I’ve read – and there have been so many, that’s quite an accomplishment.

    • Why don’t you stop using the internet. You just love the tools and services tech people create, but loathe to think that those very people might want or deserve to live somewhere cool.

    • I’m not sure exactly what kind of “diversity” that the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations is envisioning. Artists don’t live in low-income housing; they live in modified commercial spaces. Imagine how many artists would get run out of SF is Google, Yahoo, etc took over big office spaces in the city, driving up the commercial rents.

  8. This is part of the reason I moved to Bernal – access to freeways and the Yahoo! shuttle. I now no longer commute but still love the neighborhood and its easy access to the mission and to silicon valley.

  9. I used to take the Yahoo! shuttle for a couple of years but now work at the Yahoo! office in the city. The beautiful thing about Bernal Heights is that – in contrast to Noe Valley – the shuttles stops are still in close proximity, but the routes don’t go through the neighborhood.

  10. There are also two Tesla shuttle stops here in Bernal: one at San Jose and 30th on the way to Palo Alto headquarters from the Marina, the other at Cesar and Mission on the way to our Fremont factory.

  11. While most prefer to circle around the edges of Bernal to get to 101 recently RidePal has added a stop in Central Bernal – that’s right, on Cortland / Folsom

  12. Pingback: Neighbor David Talbot Laments the Tech-Fueled Transformation of Bernal Heights | Bernalwood

  13. Pingback: Bernal Resident Creates RidePal, a Private-Shuttle Alternative for Everyone Else | Bernalwood

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