Saturday, February 1, 2014

Google an inch

And they want a mile, in San Francisco;
It is important to make some headway now. And that means Google needs to step up. Granted, Google is getting a bit of a raw deal. It's not the only company using corporate shuttles to ferry workers from San Francisco to the Peninsula and Silicon Valley. The target could easily be the Apple buses (Apple carts?). But for now, Google has the biggest image problem.
There's a very real safety concern here. Protesters blocking buses had been annoying but mostly harmless. Then last month demonstrators in Oakland broke a bus window. There was also a "blockade" of a Google employee's house in Berkeley by members of the lunatic fringe.
Naturally, the San Francisco Syndrome is to  sympathize with the lunatic fringe;
First, acknowledge that you hear the critics and that, although you disagree with the methods, admit they might be making some good points. A public statement laying out measures to address the concerns would be a good start.
For instance, complaints about the big buses, which are more than 10 feet wide, on narrow San Francisco streets have merit. It would be worthwhile for all the shuttle bus operators to take a hard look at their routes and potential bottlenecks. It may be that employees would have to walk an extra block or two to board a bus that is staying on wide thoroughfares. They can tough it out.
Or, they might decide to drive their own cars to work?
And speaking of volunteering, there were howls of protest when the MTA board announced that it would charge $1 per stop for the buses during the pilot. That's nothing, protesters said. The board replied that state law allows it to charge only enough to offset the cost of the program.
Fine. But there's no rule against Google and the other tech companies voluntarily paying more - Google already contributes to Bay Area charities, to the tune of $60 million since 2011. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is talking about getting shuttle operators to dramatically increase the rates they pay.
Nice little shuttle bus you have there, be too bad if....
"I am encouraging our companies to step up with a more significant voluntary contribution," Chiu said. "It would be an important gesture to show they are invested" in the city.
Iow, leave your wallet in the City by the Bay.

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