Google Buses a Plague on the City

Large limousine-style shuttles carrying tech workers clog quiet streets

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jun 9, 2009  |  Updated 1:53 PM CDT
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Google Buses a Plague on the City

Richard Masoner

While Googlers enjoy free Wi-fi on their commutes, their Noe Valley neighbors have started complaining.

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Part of the Bay Area's dysfunctional public transportation system includes fancy private shuttles for the employees of wealthy companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Genentech.

Unfortunately, the number and size of these vehicles, and their inevitable congregation in wealthy neighborhoods like Noe Valley have some neighbors fuming. Because of weight restrictions on many residential streets, the mammoth vehicles are restricted to main thoroughfares -- which are already heavily trafficked by other buses and shuttle vans.

Last week, neighbors met with officials from the offending companies. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority also began looking into the issue last month.

While the shuttles are laudable in that they take the tech workers' cars off highways, the private, ad-hoc nature of the employer-shuttle programs mean less overall efficiency than a centrally organized fleet.

And of course, highly paid technology workers tend to congregate in neighborhoods full of other wealthy types with plenty of time on their hands to raise a fuss about noise and congestion.

Photo by Richard Masoner.

Jackson West figures better public transportation would mean fewer private shuttles.

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