This morning the San Francisco Chronicle published a story about a bus line called SamTrans which appeared to be dumping homeless people in the city late at night. A pair of private security guards who work in the area near the city’s new homeless Navigation Center started noticing a late influx of homeless people. By chance they came across a bus Sam Trans bus stop and heard the bus driver telling everyone they had to get out because it was the end of the line. Most of the people who got out appeared to be homeless:
The new, expanded SamTrans bus service from the Peninsula to San Francisco’s Embarcadero appears to be doing double duty as a late-night homeless shuttle that regularly drops those with nowhere to go onto city streets and parks at the end of the line.
Some of those homeless people may be coming from San Francisco International Airport, where San Francisco police hand out free bus tokens to keep them out of the terminals at night.
This at a time when the city just opened a $4 million Navigation Center not far away to deal with homelessness along the waterfront.
“It’s unconscionable that agencies are playing what appears to be musical chairs with the homeless,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district includes the Drumm Street block where the SamTrans line terminates…
“This is just the type of homeless dumping that we sued the state of Nevada over a few years back,” Peskin said, refering to the 2015 “Greyhound therapy case” that found the state of Nevada was giving unwanted psychiatric patients one-way tickets.
But it turns out the situation isn’t quite as simple as “homeless dumping.” As the story mentions, many of the people on the SamTrans bus had been given tokens by authorities at San Francisco International Airport. In fact, the Chronicle reported this was happening last year. And it just happens that the stop near the Embarcadero is the end of the line, so that’s where most of the people with nowhere else to go wind up.
But as you’ll see in the story below, the SamTrans spokesman says they aren’t packing the homeless into San Francisco. He believes many of the homeless who ride the bus from the airport wound up in the airport by riding BART trains from the city.
Last September I wrote about the increasing problems on BART trains which resulted from a “blitz” to clear the homeless from BART stations. Forbidden from crashing in the stations, many of the homeless simply got onto the trains where they can ride until late at night. Many wind up at the airport and from there back onto the bus heading north again. It’s like a daily homeless migration pattern. Or maybe it’s the world’s saddest merry go round. Either way, the people in the region are paying for it all.
Here’s a local report on the SamTrans buses: