Google buses are being made to pay to use municipal bus stops in San Francisco. After protesters slammed the transportation services offered by technological companies to their employees, the city approved new regulation requiring that $1 dollar be charged for every Google bus using a city bus stop. The agreement does not satisfy everyone though. Feelings run high against the looming giants of technological industries as small businesses and artists struggle to compete for space in the Bay Area. The rising gentrification of the Bay Area due to the influx of tech employees moving into its cities has pushed out lower and middle-income families. The cost of living has increased, and the displacement problems posed by the demands of the wealthy and powerful industries are not being addressed.
Over the years, in order to recruit the best candidates, Google offered its employees perks such as free food, sports facilities, medical care, car washes, haircuts and an easy commute. It is estimated that shuttles make 35,000 trips a day in Silicon Valley. To access the free shuttles, people moved to locations on the Google buses route, often in San Francisco. The technology companies have been requesting that their employees show support to local businesses after protests against the tech industries were persuasively formed. In December, 2013 a rock was thrown through a shuttle window while in Oakland. Resentment against the billion dollar industry has accrued as it is clear to see where the dollar stops. The feeling is that somebody should be made to pay for their present difficulties. Security guards are now employed to keep watch over the shuttles and their passengers.
Utopian Socialist experiments providing a community with free services, education and better working hours in the United States have been documented over time. New Harmony, Indiana, for example, was founded in 1825 to attract men and women of the natural sciences. The idealism included the sharing of profits and exacting good behavior which in the end could not compete with capitalist production. In present day San Francisco, the technological industries have created a world for their workers that provides, in addition to a good working wage, services normally taking up time and energy to arrange privately. A step further in a quasi-utopian direction, but in keeping with the demands of capitalism. The problem is that not everyone is included and not everyone could ever be included in America’s capitalist system. Google has begun to examine the possibility of providing ferry services to its employees. Free and easy transportation enables companies to exact more services from their free time.
The new agreement making Google buses pay one dollar for every bus stop used is a drop in the bucket. It is estimated that the larger technological industries will pay above $100 thousand a year in fees while the lesser ones will be around $80 thousand out-of-pocket. Further, where the buses may stop for passengers to board and descend will be stipulated. When the Google bus system started, a Google spokesperson stated that basically it was running a small municipal transit agency. If the technological industries are basing their businesses upon the back of America, it was felt they need to pay back the environment and community. Making Google buses pay to stop at municipal bus stops, provided by tax payers’ money was ultimately a demand by the people.
By Persephone Abbott