Just weeks after Google Buses carrying staff to work were held up and embroiled in anti-gentrification protests by furious Californians, Google has announced a solution.
A shiny new boat service to ferry its employees across the Bay from San Francisco to Redwood City.
There's tone deaf, and then there's corporate tone deaf.
The Google Boat will take employees to Redwood City, near its headquarters in Mountain View and about 26 miles south of SF, Google confirmed to El Reg today following a nice scoop by CBS-affiliate KPIX 5.
"We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work," Google told us.
The pilot scheme follows months of growing tensions in Silicon Valley: the plush, tinted-window corporate buses that Google, Apple and other tech titans use to transport their workers have become a symbol of economic inequality, and sparked protests.
Campaigners, who have blocked the double-decker shuttles in city streets, are irritated by the rapid gentrification of large swaths of San Francisco. The protesters claim techies' hefty Web 2.0 salaries are driving up rents and forcing out other folks to the corners of the Bay area.
In December, one Google Bus in Oakland had its windows smashed amid an ugly standoff with a group of activists, who also had a sign that read: "Fuck off Google."
Though these buses likely prevent congestion on Silicon Valley's Mad Max-style freeways, they have become a lightning rod for local ill-feeling towards well-compensated tech workers. Below is a map of private bus services operated by Silicon Valley companies today:
View Shuttle Commuter Stops Effective 7-30-13 in a larger map
The Google Boat – a catamaran named Triumphant – started ferrying folk down to San Francisco on Monday, and runs two trips in the morning and two in the evening, according to KPIX 5.
Coincidentally, SF officials also announced on Monday a pilot scheme to charge tech companies pocket change to use public transport bus stops to pick up and drop off their workers – though the city cannot make a profit off this levy, and is instead running the scheme mostly to salve the rage of the populace. ®