The heated clash between tech workers and anti-gentrification advocates in San Francisco has inspired bar fights, protests and hilarious satirical think pieces. Some have literally referred to the dispute as "a tale of two cities," prompting eye-rolls from San Franciscans and journalists alike.
But no symbol so perfectly encapsulates San Francisco's separation of wealth like the exclusive, luxury tech buses that shuttle Google, Apple and Facebook employees from their San Francisco homes to their Silicon Valley headquarters.
This private tech bus system has drawn the ire of opponents for its practice of using public San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) bus stops for the use of a private company. And if a new time-lapse video is any indication, the system is a well-oiled machine. (Click here to watch.)
Created by Paul Supawanich, a transportation planner, the video records three weekday hours between 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at a public bus stop near Supawanich's home. It captures what appears to be a Google bus make 10 stops over the three-hour span.
"[The] purpose was to observe how commuter shuttles and Muni operates at this stop," he wrote on Vimeo, adding, "Video was taken for planning purposes only and is not intended to be used outside of this context."
"You can have this neutral-tone video, with no sound, just ‘Hey, watch what’s happening,’" he told the Washington Post, "and even with that, people can take it in very different ways."
While the video was, as stated, taken only for planning purposes, it also reveals how prevalent the tech buses have become. In just three hours, 10 private buses stop at the curb, picking up a full load of passengers each time. And as the Washington Post noted, the bus does seem to get in the way of a Muni bus at the 1:18 mark.
Supawanich, however, reminded the Post that the video captures just one glimpse of the situation.
"This is one morning, at one spot in space," he said, "and it’s not necessarily a good thing that someone should say, 'Look what happened at minute 1:30, we should definitely ban all shuttles!"
Since the controversy began, tech companies and Muni have made attempts at extending the olive branch. Google recently donated millions to Muni so low-income kids can ride the bus for free, and tech workers met with affordable housing advocates at an open dialogue happy hour that (unsurprisingly) turned sour. In January, Muni voted to force tech companies to pay $1 per stop for use of the city's bus stops.