Google has a penchant for doing things differently. One of those things is doing away with old methods of getting to work. Planes, trains, and automobiles don’t have a place in the Google-sphere. Instead, the company is taking to the open seas in a catamaran.
Taking to the seas makes sense for the Internet giant, which has been using shuttle buses to bring its employees to its Mountain View campus from the city of San Francisco. Those buses have been harshly protested by San Francisco residents. This past December, anti-gentrification protesters slashed bus tires and shattered windows, while blocking another at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.
As simple logical dot-connecting would suggest, Google’s move to seaward transportation expansion is a direct response to these bus protests. As Google said in a statement, "we certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work." The catamaran, which carries 149 passengers, will ferry employees from San Francisco to Redwood City and back again as an alternative (and absolutely awesome) means of transportation. At present, Google will run two morning trips and two evening ones between the two cities. It’s still in the early stages, but if it proves successful, those numbers could expand.
One of the primary reasons for the protests was that Google and other high-tech companies had buses that ran along normal city routes and picked up employees at city bus stations, but the companies never paid the city a dime. However, this week San Francisco mayor Ed Lee made clear that they'll be held responsible for paying for the public bus stop usage. It'll be about a buck per stop during an 18-month pilot program, which will produce approximately $1.5 million in recuperation for the city. What the city can’t really change is the gentrification that occurs with the bus program. Rents have risen severely around the stops that Google and others use, which has added to the growing discomfort over the bus system.
Hopefully, other tech companies will purchase boats for its employees in the near future. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge SyFy …