Valencia Street in San Francisco is no longer served by the MTA’s 26-Valencia but by private shuttles headed toward Silicon Valley. This transformation in public transit and the presence of roving shuttles from Apple, Google, and others evidence a city remade for a certain kind of resident. As a result of a 2013 “handshake agreement” with the City (investigated by Tim Redmond in 48 Hills), operators of these tech-company shuttles can now load/unload their workers at public bus stops for a minimal fee, enabling a new form of the reverse commute and rendering San Francisco an employment package perk.
A large cluster of these public/private depots are found in what real estate agent Jennifer Rosdail calls the “Quad,” a new “meta-hood” in the Castro and Mission District. As Rosdail explains on her website, the area is desired by “quadsters” who “like to hang in the sun with their friends. They work very hard—mostly in high tech—and make a lot of money.” Quadsters are young, wealthy, and likely white and male based on the hiring statistics of tech corporations.
The presence of private shuttles impacts how areas are sold and who moves in. Without the shuttle service, 40 percent of commuting tech workers in San Francisco would move closer to their offices outside the city, according to the 2015 paper and presentation Riding First Class by Danielle Dai and David Weinzimmer. In addition to co-opting public bus stops, the placement of these shuttles contributes to both property speculation and eviction. From 2011 through 2013, 69 percent of no-fault evictions occurred within four block of tech bus stops. Since then, property values have continued to surge along with eviction rates, as units are advertised based on tech bus stop proximity. Based on the Eviction Defense Collaborative’s 2014 report, those evicted are disproportionately black and Latina/o. Through the re-architecting of public bus stops, San Francisco encourages the migratory/settling desires of tech workers and follows the logics of free-market capitalism. It neglects the resulting displacement and migration, both undesired and racialized.