In response to community complaints, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is working on quieting and regulating the sightseeing buses that constantly cruise the tourist hot spots. According to a press release from his office, Chiu presented a package of policy proposals at yesterday’s board meeting which will address the problem of tour buses idling too long, blocking traffic, and using loud amplification systems through quite residential neighborhoods.
When it comes to tour bus noise, New York City stopped tolerating it back in May when they passed a law requiring headphones be used instead of amplified speakers. Chiu’s proposals include similar limits that would cover double-decker and open-air buses where the sounds are not confined.
Bob Fioritti, general mananger of Super Sightseeing Tours, told the Chronicle that he doesn’t think an across-the-board policy would be fair. He’d rather have the city take on the operators that cause the problems. Replacing loudspeakers with headphones is expensive and he doesn’t think that his tour buses are excessively loud.
The proposals are the result of several months of collaboration between Supervisor Chiu, the MTA, the SFPD, and other city agencies. As result, the MTA is close to finishing the city’s first tour bus management plan that will focus on Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Union Square. According to the press release, the plan will be made public in a few weeks.
Chiu’s requests to the MTA are outlined in a letter he sent the agency yesterday. Some of his requests include things like moving and identifying additional tour bus loading zones, improving enforcement of passenger loading zones, and exploring the possibility of a permit system for tour bus parking. He also sent a letter to the SFPD yesterday asking that they increase enforcement on existing laws against idling, noise in public spaces, and unloading passengers in the middle of the street.
Currently the fine for commercial vehicles idling for more than five minutes is $100 for the initial offense and can jump to $500 for multiple offenses in one year. Chiu doesn’t think that is enough.
“While we appreciate the importance of tourism as a major economic engine for San Francisco, I have heard from countless residents that their quality of life is being negatively impacted,” said Supervisor Chiu in the press release from his office. “My hope is that these policy changes will allow for peaceful coexistence between residents and tour buses.”