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SFMTA May Staff Up To Enforce New Rules For Private Transit Vehicles

Image: Chariot/Facebook

By Carrie Sisto - Published on August 02, 2017.

With the success of Chariot and the recent introduction of Lyft’s new shuttle service, SFMTA is considering ramping up staff to begin regulating the private transit vehicle sector again.

SFMTA’s 15-member Citizens Advisory Committee on August 3rd will consider a motion by the agency’s Operations and Customer Service committee to add staff “for effective enforcement of regulation of new areas of agency jurisdiction, such as private transit vehicles.” 

The staff could be needed to administer and enforce a whole new proposed permit program, including fees, fines and permit terms and conditions, which is expected to go before the SFMTA board in September, said agency spokesman Paul Rose.

Chariot's city routes. | Image: Chariot

Private transit vehicles, also known as jitneys, are not exactly new to SFMTA jurisdiction, he told Hoodline. 

“Jitneys were previously regulated under the Police Code, but they almost entirely disappeared during the 1970s,” Rose said.

In 1978, San Francisco voters passed Proposition K prohibiting the resale of all vehicle-for-hire licenses. While taxi cab companies survived, jitney services largely dried up. 

In 2011, SFMTA repealed its old jitney regulations because they were obsolete, “but left a placeholder in the code for new regulations to be implemented in the future,” Rose said.  

The development of the new regulations has come through ongoing conversations between SFMTA and stakeholders over the course of the last several months, Rose said.

The agency also collected input when the proposal was first floated at the Citizens Advisory Committee and SFMTA’s Board’s Policy and Governance committee meetings in March, he said. 

The regulations intend to ensure that PTVs compliment Muni service, provide equal access for people with disabilities, comply with labor standards and meet local emissions standards, Rose said.

The permit program’s main goals are to ensure safety, minimize impacts on transit, promote accessibility and responsiveness to residents, while ensuring data is collected to allow the agency to track the industry and adjust the regulations in the future if necessary, he said.

Lyft's Shuttle routes. | Image: Lyft

SFMTA only has jurisdiction over PTVs that operate within the city’s borders. Any intercity PTVs are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission and all jitneys are also subject to regular inspections by the California Highway Patrol, Rose said.

If the measure to add staff to enforce the new permitting program moves forward — and the new permit program as proposed is approved by the SFMTA board — PTV operators would pay an annual fee that would recover SFMTA’s costs of administering and enforcing the permit program, Rose said. 

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Citizens Advisory Committee tonight, which among other topics will also consider a measure to add more proof-of-purchase inspectors to prevent fare evasion and provide additional security for passengers and employees. 

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