Google Using Ferry to Shuttle Workers Amid Growing Bus Criticism

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Phil Bronstein, executive chairman at Center for Investigative Reporting, discusses the impact of tech companies on San Francisco’s public infrastructure and housing costs in the nearby area on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.”

Google Inc. (GOOG) has started shuttling workers on a ferry from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, amid criticism that the Internet search giant and other technology companies are overburdening the city with buses for employees.

Google hired contractor Multinational Logistics Services to run the program, according to Peter Dailey, maritime deputy director at the Port of San Francisco. The 30-day trial service will take employees from the Ferry Building in San Francisco to Redwood City on a catamaran that holds 149 passengers. A fee will be paid to the port as part of the trial, Dailey said.

Companies with campuses in California’s Silicon Valley have come under increased pressure over the large buses they send to San Francisco to transport employees to work. The buses take up too much space on public streets and add traffic, while affluent technology workers living in the city have contributed to a rise in housing prices, some residents say. The companies and the city, meanwhile, say that the shuttles keep thousands of cars off the road, minimizing traffic and benefiting the environment.

Earlier this week, a group of companies including Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Genentech Inc. agreed to pay the city a daily fee for the buses to use existing stops as part of a pilot program, to cover the cost of administration, Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said in a statement. The agreement also will establish guidelines for the buses’ use of the stops.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to S.F. residents and we’re trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,” the Mountain View, California-based company said yesterday, without commenting specifically on the new ferry service.

City Impact

The disputes over the buses and the impact of relatively affluent workers on the city of San Francisco underscores the challenges of gentrification in a city that has gone through booms in the past, said Phil Bronstein, executive chairman at the San Francisco Bay Area-based Center for Investigative Reporting.

“It’s a change of culture,” Bronstein said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Google’s ferry service was reported earlier by San Francisco TV station KPIX 5.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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