Here in Silicon Valley a growing phenomena is “The Google Bus” which is actually practiced by many of the Tech Companies here, not just Google. The simple implementation is a shuttle bus operated by the company that drives employees between the mass transit station and the campus. But the new incarnation, The Google Bus, drives the employees over long distances, such as all the way from Mtn View to Santa Cruz, or San Ramon, or San Francisco. This gives their employees the privilege of not having to deal with regular mass transit systems, making it a big perk for the employees, but it starves the publicly owned mass transit system of money and riders.
I don’t know if the practice is being done in other regions. Again, this isn’t just Google, but many of the larger Tech companies in Silicon Valley, calling it The Google Bus is a short-hand. Generally speaking the practice works as so:
Company contracts with shuttle bus operator – the buses are modern, sleek, full length buses, of the type you might see run by a Tour Bus operator
They arrange bus routes that pick up employees wherever they live
The bus is comfortable, has corporate-owned WiFi, etc
Hence the commute time could be counted as office time
To Google and the other Tech companies they’re gaining two benefits
Giving perks to their employees that also give the employees more office time thanks to the WiFi in the bus
Claiming some kind of green cred by reducing traffic on the highways and maybe they can calculate a carbon foot print reduction – for example some of these bus operators use biofuels
In the macro-economics level – this is a misallocation of money, because if all that money were pooled into one publicly owned transit system it would benefit everyone. Instead money is allocated to benefit the privileged who are lucky enough to work for a big Tech Company.
In part the problem is that the SF Bay Area’s transit system is not offering proper service for the employers in the region. The employers are voting with their feet and dollars to create a system serving their needs. Do the employers care if it’s a misallocation of resources? Apparently not.
SF protesters block Google buses
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