A gigantic tech shuttle bus blocked traffic for at least two hours Tuesday night at 24th and Dolores streets, as apparent transmission problems kept the enormous bus stuck, forcing Muni reroutes and confusing a steady stream of motorists.

It’s been quite a few years since San Francisco has had a good, old-fashioned tech bus controversy, but that may be largely because many of the buses stopped running during the pandemic, even when their tech companies’ offices reopened. And there have still been tech shuttle mishaps in recent months, some even damaging a number of bystander vehicles.  

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

But on Tuesday night, the tech shuttle bus seen above just cold stopped in its tracks on the pretty steep hill at the intersection of 24th and Dolores streets. The bus was completely immobilized for two full hours, complicating matters for many a Noe Valley motorist on their evening commute.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

SFMTA first acknowledged the problem at 5:41 pm Tuesday, noting that a “disabled commuter shuttle near 24th and Dolores” would be causing delays and reroutes for the 48-Quintara-24th Street line. (These photos were taken at 7:38 pm, two hours later.)

24th Street motorists had to navigate around the stuck bus for the whole two hours, with little more direction than some bright orange triangles that were placed on the street. SFNews asked the driver what the problem was, and he simply said “transmission.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

The 48 Muni line was rerouted down Guerrero Street to 23rd, and then up Dolores Street. Fortunately for Muni riders, the 48 line is not powered by overhead wires, so that transition was easier than it might have been on some other SF lines.

Motorists eventually figured out to just drive around the thing. But this was two-direction traffic on only two lanes, and at a four-way intersection with no direction provided for the drivers. So that caused some confusion for motorists trying to navigate the mess.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

But the real trouble arrived when other tech buses came rolling along, as two of these hulking behemoths in the same street would block all traffic in both directions. The driver of the disabled bus had to go out in the street and direct the other tech shuttle through it by hand, which generally took a few minutes. We know these drivers have it tough, and they ought to have a little more support for situations like this.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

Hey, we realize that vehicles have transmission problems all the time. But given the enormous size of these tech shuttles, they cause disproportionate problems when experiencing a mechanical issue, particularly on some of the very steep hills they are charged with navigating. And come on, we’re now ten years into this tech shuttle program, do they still not have protocols for how to clear a bus quickly when it breaks down? Two hours seems a little long to allow street blockage of this magnitude.

When the vehicles are this massive, and there’s a clear inability to resolve their mechanical trouble or street blocking in a timely fashion, minor problems with the tech buses can lead to, well, outsize problems.

Related: Tech Shuttle Protest Blockades 24th Street [SFNews]

Images: Joe Kukura, SFNews