You Want San Francisco’s Hottest Neighborhoods? Follow The Bus

Image of Google bus protest from Flickr
Image of Google bus protest from Flickr

If you are looking for a place to live in the city of San Francisco, you likely fall into one of two camps – you are either looking for the hottest, best location or you are looking for something that resembles affordability. If you are among the first, you might want to throw away your outdated guide to San Francisco and head to the nearest Google bus stop.

Chris Walker, who grew up in Union City, but lives in Mumbai, India, where he works in international development, mapped the places where the Google shuttle stops to economic development. He found that the areas around the Google bus stops were the most prosperous.

“San Francisco has always been a really expensive place to live, but I wanted to see if these neighborhoods had become even more gentrified and affluent with the arrival of all these tech workers who commute to the South Bay,” said Walker. “Broadly, I think the data does show that.”

As Walker sees it, technology companies stationed their bus stops in fun, hip neighborhoods where their young workers were increasingly moving. Those new residents, with plenty of disposable income, prompted more new restaurants, cafes and bars to open – drawing more tech workers, raising housing prices and luring more new businesses.

Source: SF Gate

The shuttles don’t only belong to Google. Apple, Yahoo and Facebook all hire private shuttles to pick up their San Francisco employees and take them to their Silicon Valley and Peninsula offices. The hub is the Mission and the shuttles service the Castro, South of Market, North Beach and more.


Not all is happy in Google shuttle areas, though. The average tech shuttle rider is young, male and earning six figures. Not only are the shuttles changing the looks of the neighborhood, but long time residents are being pushed out, due to rising rents and rising property taxes. This is causing a lot of tension, but even for those who are staying, many feel they are losing the neighborhood feel and cultural diversity.

The tech sector did not create the problem of inequality in San Francisco. The city has long been among the most expensive to live in America. But by gravitating towards certain neighborhoods, tech sector workers amplify and accelerate the gentrification process that was already happening there. They feed into the clusters of affluence in much of the northeast corner of the city, which has led to a recent uptick in evictions and several protests over affordability.


Click here if you are interested in seeing the neighborhoods where the shuttles stop and their concentration of cafes and restaurants.

Property values and gentrification aren’t the only issues the Google busses are facing. Residents are complaining about traffic congestion. The city is holding open houses on February 10th and 22nd to determine if the neighbors should have a say in where the busses stop.