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New Tech Money, Same Old Problems 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-don't-study-history-are-doomed-to-something-something dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following the publication in May of George Packer's alarming article in the New Yorker revealing the state of the communities surrounding California's tech boom, the LA Times reports that despite the wake-up call, things are getting even worse in the Bay Area as tech companies seek to completely insulate their employees from ever having to interact with the real world. Quoting: 'Every weekday starting at dawn and continuing late into the evening, a shiny fleet of unmarked buses rolls through the streets of San Francisco, picking up thousands of young technology workers at dozens of stops and depositing them an hour's drive south. It's an exclusive perk offered by Apple, Facebook, Google and other major Silicon Valley companies: luxury coaches equipped with air conditioning, plush seats and wireless Internet access that ease the stress of navigating congested Bay Area roadways. The private mass transit system has become the most visible symbol of the digital gold rush sweeping this city, and of the sharpening division between those who are riding the high-tech industry's good fortunes and those who are not.'"
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New Tech Money, Same Old Problems

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  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:20PM (#44568937) Journal

    ...they'll all be in a huge space station... Hey, waaait a minute!

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:36PM (#44569613)

      Really. So companies provide employees with a free benefit, thereby reducing pollution, and relieving traffic congestion, and this means that things are "getting worse"? This is the stupidest article I have read so far today.

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:00PM (#44569799)

        Really. So companies provide employees with a free benefit, thereby reducing pollution, and relieving traffic congestion, and this means that things are "getting worse"? This is the stupidest article I have read so far today.

        I think the problem is that it's turning SF into a "bedroom community" for employers far to the south rather than having the workers live *and* work in the city (thus they are spending less time and money in the city. When I worked in SF during the first dot-com boom, my coworkers and I all went out to lunch at local restaurants and met after work at local bars. The worker that leaves the city at 7am on a bus, and them comes home at 7pm to be dropped off in his neighborhood is probably not spending as much time going out and supporting local businesses. Further, the added influx of SF residents are driving up rents, so even those that *do* work in SF find it difficult and expensive to find a place to live. Oh, and the city receives no payroll tax for those employees, so not only does the city earn less tax revenue due to reduced spending by these workers, but they receive no payroll tax either.

        Rather than subsidizing bus travel to make it more attractive to live in SF and work 40 miles south, it would be nice to see the Peninsula cities and tech companies work on making it more attractive for their employees to live closer to work. It's no fun to live next to an office park that becomes a big unwalkable, bike unfriendly concrete wasteland after working hours.

        • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @09:02PM (#44570207)

          I think the problem is that it's turning SF into a "bedroom community" for employers far to the south rather than having the workers live *and* work in the city (thus they are spending less time and money in the city. When I worked in SF during the first dot-com boom, my coworkers and I all went out to lunch at local restaurants and met after work at local bars. The worker that leaves the city at 7am on a bus, and them comes home at 7pm to be dropped off in his neighborhood is probably not spending as much time going out and supporting local businesses. Further, the added influx of SF residents are driving up rents, so even those that *do* work in SF find it difficult and expensive to find a place to live. Oh, and the city receives no payroll tax for those employees, so not only does the city earn less tax revenue due to reduced spending by these workers, but they receive no payroll tax either.

          Rather than subsidizing bus travel to make it more attractive to live in SF and work 40 miles south, it would be nice to see the Peninsula cities and tech companies work on making it more attractive for their employees to live closer to work. It's no fun to live next to an office park that becomes a big unwalkable, bike unfriendly concrete wasteland after working hours.

          So let me get this straight. These people are commuting out of the city they live in to go to work on company supplied buses and this is causing the city to loose money? It would be no different if they drove themselves to work. These people may be even less likely to live in the city if they had to drive themselves everyday. In which case the city would get nothing from them. As it is, the city is collecting property and local taxes from these people. They probably also do most of their shopping in the city, so the local businesses are making money and the city is getting sales taxes. It''s my understanding that most of these tech places also have their own food services and such, so I fail to see how the city is losing much from the lunch crowd either.

          Now if you want to see the reverse of this, come to D.C. Damn near everyone who works in the city lives along the beltway in Virginia or Maryland. So the city gets all of the lunch crowd people. Then they go home and spend their money where they live and pay their taxes there too. Those areas are very well off for the most part. DC itself is broke. If it wasn't for the federal government propping it up it would be an even bigger hell hole than is already is. The 2010 violent crime rate> was 207% higher than the national average. [cityrating.com]Sanfrancisco [cityrating.com] was 73% higher. So no, Getting people to move away is not going to do anything for the city. Just look at Detroit.

          Your remark about driving the property values up I agree with, but that seems to be happening most places.

        • by Macman408 (1308925) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @09:27PM (#44570325)

          Maybe these people aren't eating lunch in the city any more, but the people I know who have moved there want to live there exactly because they want to spend their time and money there. They aren't moving there because it's more convenient, or less expensive, or has better housing - they move there because there's better food, better nightlife, better social atmosphere.

          Of course, this ends up benefitting the high-class, trendy local establishments, possibly at the expense of the ones that are not.

          I'm sure they're pricing many people out of the housing market - but that's happening everywhere within about an hour of any of the tech companies, save for a few spots that have a reputation of being unsafe or in an undesirable location (adjacent to train tracks or highways, perhaps). It's not unique to San Francisco. Although the presence of a bus stop may amplify the effects of techies in a small area, the techies moved to the city before the bus service started. (I work for a company where it is a perennial request to run a shuttle from the city for the employees that already live there.) Additionally, there are bus stops in many other areas - a friend of mine often rides one from south San Jose, for example. And it's not just distant destinations, either; I have seen an Apple bus dropping off about a dozen employees a mere 3 miles from the mothership, in a completely boring (but still expensive) neighborhood.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @09:41PM (#44570383)

        The picture in the article was taken 100 feet from my house, and the rental units in our building have gone up from $1800/mo to $2800/mo within just two years. I'm not complaining, but the article is dead-on that this huge influx of intelligence and money has thus far failed to actually lead to any benefit for the large majority of people who actually live here. It's a bit of a disappointment so far, and possibly a prelude to what's to come for the rest of the country (?).

        I actually left Silicon Valley 14 years ago in order to escape the slit-your-wrists boredom of Silicon Valley. San Jose is loaded to the gills with money, but they never seem to prioritize perks for those who are not directly working for those companies. To give just one example, I distinctly recall having to drive quite a distance to get to the nearest bar, even when I was working for a great company. San Jose's idea of a solution to that sort of problem is to vigorously go after drunk drivers (as opposed to just creating more and better mass transit). Those who have lived in the Bay Area might have noticed the incredible difference between San Jose and San Francisco police officers.

        I think many people are legitimately concerned about what this culture brings with it. The human aspects of San Francisco which set San Francisco apart from the rest of the world -- the electronic music, burning man artists, etc -- have already mostly crossed the bridge to Oakland.

        In reviewing the comments here, I'm honestly not completely surprised that the people here would take a clinical view of the article. This is not exactly a reflective community. You guys probably won't get it until your tech company throws you away at age 45 or 50, as tends to happen when your pay gets too high. Will you know enough to start up your own company at that point? Those who have put everything they had into their work tend not to have the time to think about such things. The same things that make the Silicon Valley culture lacking in empathy also sporadically appear here too.

      • So companies provide employees with a free benefit, thereby reducing pollution, and relieving traffic congestion, and this means that things are "getting worse"?

        It makes sense once you consider the politics of the city and the people who live there. For example, it's obvious to most of us here that in a free society with a market economy the labor of some will be worth more than the labor of others and that over time this will invariably manifest itself in public displays of wealth inequality. However, in San Francisco it offends their delicate socialist sensibilities that something akin to mass transit is being offered privately to a privileged few and in a much f

  • Allegory (Score:5, Funny)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:27PM (#44568995) Homepage Journal

    Every weekday starting at dawn and continuing late into the evening, a shiny fleet of unmarked buses rolls through the streets of San Francisco, picking up thousands of young technology workers at dozens of stops and depositing them an hour's drive south

    Huh.

    OK, maybe it's because I'm an old-school Missouri farm boy, but... that sounds an awful lot like cows at a stockyard.

    They're just one beat off from installing cattle chutes. [wikipedia.org]

    MooooooooHeyisthataStarbucksooooooooo.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How DARE you refer to us as "cattle". We ARE NOT "cattle". We are RUBYISTS.

      Ruby on Rails is my life. It is who I am. It is what I am. Ruby is what makes me A GOD among mere mortals.

      We Rubyists are the ones who make the world go round. It is our code that powers all that is truly important in this world.

      Because we are so critical to modern life, we deserve to be treated better than anyone else. We deserve to be driven around by those who require our services.

      We are not merely humans. We are RUBYISTS. We are

    • Re:Allegory (Score:4, Informative)

      by MatthiasF (1853064) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:41PM (#44569107)
      They have the cattle chutes, too. They're called security checkpoints. Most of these companies have them and some even search you on your way out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by turkeydance (1266624)
      there's this "turnip truck" thing, too.
    • Re:Allegory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:43PM (#44569147)

      Huh.

      OK, maybe it's because I'm an old-school Missouri farm boy, but... that sounds an awful lot like cows at a stockyard.

      Don't they have school buses in Missouri? This is pretty much the same thing.

      And maybe it's because I'm from a European city, but it sounds like the public transport isn't very good if companies run private buses. The Google, Facebook etc here don't need buses, nor (presumably) do the offices in New York. (We don't have school buses here either, children are expected to use the normal public transport. It's free for them.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "things are getting even worse in the Bay Area"?

        Who the heck is the retard who thinks it is a crime for employers to provide conveniences to employees? O, wait, it might be un-American to treat employes well. Is this schmuck an IRS agent? What is so alarming about these buses, I fail to see. I drive two miles to Caltrain station, pay $4 for parking, $16 for two way ticket, walk 1 1/2 miles to office in Downtown SF, all in all I spend two to three hours commuting. I would love my employer providing these bus

        • by xaxa (988988)

          Maybe your journey would be better if all Google, Facebook employees using these buses were instead paying in to the city's transport system.

          (2-3 hours -- that's there and back, I hope?)

          • Re:Allegory (Score:5, Informative)

            by Stiletto (12066) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:01PM (#44569809)

            There is no serious public transport system between SF and the South Bay/Peninsula (or between tri-valley area and South Bay/Peninsula, or really between anywhere and South Bay/Peninsula). There's only Caltrain which is a sad joke. These companies are stepping up BECAUSE the government has failed. /Disclaimer, I do not work for a company that provides such bus service, but would love to--it's a HUGE benefit to not have to commute yourself 3+ hours to/from work

            • Re:Allegory (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:17PM (#44569925)
              Google is hiding over $10 billion in offshore tax havens and Facebook paid no income tax in 2012. Public transportation sucks. I wonder if there's a connection.
              • Re:Allegory (Score:4, Insightful)

                by khallow (566160) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:40PM (#44570081)

                I wonder if there's a connection.

                It's the same government which is too incompetent to run mass transit or tax a business. Who here really thinks that if California and the US were to tap into these businesses that things would be even a bit better? It's not that these governments aren't getting enough revenue, but that they simply squander whatever they get. Double their revenue, and they'll just double what they squander.

            • There's only Caltrain which is a sad joke.

              Caltrain isn't perfect, but it's far from a joke. Ridership [caltrain.com] has been steadily increasing over the past decade. You can get from SJ to SF in an hour. That's barely longer than driving, and you can drink on the train instead of fighting for parking. Again, you can drink on the train instead of driving.

              Caltrain's biggest problem is it's lack of dedicated funding. It has to beg for money from SF, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, and they're all hesitant to pony up d

      • Re:Allegory (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nojayuk (567177) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:11PM (#44569393)

        I live in the centre of a city with the best public bus service in the nation, operating at a profit with regular clean modern buses, express services to the airport, park-and-rides, good handicapped access, night bus services etc.

        Despite this the big city centre employers like the financial services companies, healthcare, TV stations etc. all run their own shuttle bus operations as the public buses don't necessarily go from one office to another, although a few bus routes actually go into company campuses to pick up and drop off passengers at the office front door as well as passing through the business parks on the city outskirts.

      • Re:Allegory (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:16PM (#44569435)

        Within the past month I've started a job in San Jose, moving from the US East Coast to Silicon Valley.

        This area has the worst (inefficient, inconvenient, and slow) public transit system I've ever seen. I've opted to rent a car (at $250+ per week) until I can have mine shipped out here just so I don't have to rely on the light rail and buses. It's that bad.

    • Re:Allegory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:50PM (#44569209)

      "... that sounds an awful lot like cows at a stockyard."

      It's worse than that.

      I've had A LOT of job opportunities in San Francisco. (I live far from there.) The cost of living there is significantly more than twice as high as it is here. (According to CNET's Cost of Living Calculator.) And that's not all... the "quality of life" is just plain different. Row houses with no yards, built an inch apart from each other. Lack of adequate opportunity for outdoor activities. Etc. I could go on for a while about how "quality of life" is just plain not as good there.

      I keep telling recruiters that if they want me to move, it would have to be an improvement over what I can get here. So that means they'd have to pay me at least 3 times what I can make here, in order for it to be an actual step up.

      They look at me like I'm crazy... but they're the ones who are crazy.

      • Depending on what your skill set is, and how much you are being paid where you currently are, 3X may be no problem. Wages tend to be significantly higher in the area.

        They may have thought that you might not know the cost of living, and they could get you and sell you cheaply, and you'd hang on for the year required for their finder's fee to be non-refundable.

        • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Stiletto (12066) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:04PM (#44569827)

          The cost of living is much more than 2X, especially for housing, which can be up to 10X the cost of normal areas in the USA. When I moved out here from "flyover" land, my salary increased by about 1.5X but my cost of living practically tripled. It was not a good deal.

    • Re:Allegory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Stumbles (602007) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:41PM (#44569653)
      Sounds like the beginnings of "The Company Store" coal miners suffered in the 1800s. i wonder when Google will start paying their employees in Google dollars that can only be spent at Google stores. Of course Apple and others will have their equivalent money.
  • by sackofdonuts (2717491) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:36PM (#44569061)
    Driving in the Bay area is horrid. Getting bus service to and from work would be great. Could get some extra sleep too.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:45PM (#44569169)

      What's even more confusing is the article treats this like a bad thing, but it's objectively making bay area commutes BETTER by taking thousands of cars off the roads. Can you imagine how much worse traffic would be if these shuttles weren't in place?

      It's not like other mass transit is an option. Caltrain is already overloaded.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The more you isolate people from poverty around them, the more you'll hear stuff like "if people are starving, let them eat cake." It rots the soul. If a millage comes up to improve public buses, how would you expect them to vote?

        • They'll be less insulated if they drive their cars?

          I don't know San Francisco well, but I can tell you that in New York you can walk a few blocks from a neighborhood that you can't afford to a neighborhood you don't want to be in. And New York, especially Manhattan, is less dependent on cars than any other city in the country. Even rich people walk a lot, because it's easy and often convenient. Yet it all does nothing to alleviate the poverty.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by icebike (68054)

          The more you isolate people from poverty around them, the more you'll hear stuff like "if people are starving, let them eat cake." It rots the soul. If a millage comes up to improve public buses, how would you expect them to vote?

          Oh, I see.
          The issue isn't that smart technically competent people have high paying jobs, the problem is that they don't have to look at stupid incompetent street riff-raf and gang bangers.

          By all means, lets inflict a affluence penance on these high tech workers, and have mandatory alley tours and sniff safaris into the back streets, because god knows its just not fair that someone who works hard to acquire marketable skills should profit while the high-school drop out has to drive a cab, or panhandle for mo

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        It's not like other mass transit is an option. Caltrain is already overloaded.

        Aaaand now we're finally getting to the crux of the problem: poor mass transit, people living too far from work, the fact that nobody wants to live out in the 'burbs anymore, etc.

        There's a lot of factors at play here. Trying to break this into a "rich vs. poor" thing like subby did here is ridiculously simplistic.

        • crux of the problem ... nobody wants to live out in the 'burbs anymore, etc.

          Oh, the irony. All my life people complained that everybody moves out to the burbs, destroying urban life, and now the problem is that everybody wants to live in the city? Please make up your mind.

  • This is good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:37PM (#44569063)

    The buses are better for the environment and road congestion than if each person had to drive individually. And they don't cost taxpayers extra money. This sounds like a win-win to me.

  • WTF perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
    Leave it to the mainstream media to take a bizarre perspective and pretend like it's real. They like to go on about public transportation but will you ever see a big name journalist on a bus? Oh hell no. Yeah, I'm not talking about taking the subway in New York City.

    I love how they harp on the fact that "the bus schedules are withheld from the public" like it's some sort of conspiracy theory. Unless your destination is their company, you've got no business sitting on that bus. I suppose they'd prefer

    • Re:WTF perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:59PM (#44569293)

      I want to agree with you but I it is getting more difficult to ignore the ways in which people are disengaging from the real world.

      When my former college hired crossing guards to help adults cross a minor city street because they couldn't take their eyes off their gadgets I became convinced something significant has changed. When I see a lack of pick-up games and activity in the parks on beautiful days but see the organized indoor summer camps bustling with kids and tight supervision I wonder if we've become unable to live in the real world.

      We live in a world that is safer than ever - whether we're talking about world politics or safety in our neighborhoods but we're also acting more fearful than ever.

    • Re:WTF perspective (Score:5, Informative)

      by asmkm22 (1902712) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:30PM (#44569563)

      Despite the crappy summary, the articles aren't about public transportation. So I guess, leave it to the average slashdotter to not even bother reading.

      They talk about how the big ass buses are just one of many examples of how the gab between the wealthy and the poor keeps widening in that area. They have tons of billionaires and millionaires, yet record numbers of people on food stamps. Any rental property within half a mile of the various elite bus stops is apparently going for up to twice the normal rate, effectively pushing out anyone who doesn't make a google wage.

      They also complain about how the tech people don't even get out and interact with the community that they are taking over. They order stuff online rather than go shopping at local places; they bury their noses in smartphones when walking around, etc..

      Next time, RTFA.

  • Sooo.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:39PM (#44569091)

    So we're angry at rich large businesses for doing what poor public schools do? I'm confused -- why is this news?

    • What's funny about this is that company buses are hardly new, and were never considered some sort of fancy way to get to work. Especially back in an era when many middle class people didn't have cars, big companies like shipyards and aircraft plants often had company buses. It was especially good for people working night shifts when public transportation shut down, and in many cases places that needed lots of land wound up in areas where there was no public transportation anyway.

      This is how we won WWII folk

  • And The Best Part Is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816) *

    They are creating nothing of any real consequence. Everything made by Google, Apple, Facebook, Zynga, etc. is designed to be obsolete in months. They also have a habit of destroying working products and laying off workers for no reason at all.

    I have a perfectly usable 2G iPod that is perfectly unusable because it's no longer supported and it doesn't talk to anything except the mothership that disowned it.

    What was the last new (new as in it has no contemporary substitutes) COMMERCIAL software product (as i

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      What was the last new (new as in it has no contemporary substitutes) COMMERCIAL software product (as in you pay real money to a company that employs people at grown-up wages to buy it) written in a real programming language and introduced with the same usefulness and value as say, Photoshop, Office, Quickbooks, Skype or Final Cut Pro?

      Those are all software products that replaced a hardware system and/or manual labor. All of them also aim to create a final product that is easy to represent digitally (pictures, documents, speech, video). There is a limited number of such workflows, so no surprise there.

    • by pongo000 (97357)

      I have a perfectly usable 2G iPod that is perfectly unusable because it's no longer supported and it doesn't talk to anything except the mothership that disowned it.

      Rockbox [rockbox.org]!

    • Mate, get out of the luxury bus. and take a look at the real world.
    • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:21PM (#44569971) Homepage

      Google and Apple do nothing of consequence? How in the hell did you get modded up past -10?

      Google is worth many many thousands of dollars/year to my company. There's no way to program in a modern system like RoR without being able to search and find answers to questions. That's not to mention all of the other stuff that I can easily search and learn about, like when I had shingles 4 weeks ago. What used to take me a day at the library 25 years ago now takes me 5 minutes. Sorry, that's value.

      Don't even get me started about my iphone.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac.cEINSTEINom minus physicist> on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:44PM (#44569157) Journal

    So, the author is pissed off at Apple and Google for solving their own transportation and parking problems instead of waiting around for the incompetent local politicians to handle it?

    Guess it was a slow news day on the "bitching about non-problems" desk at the LA times.

    -jcr

    • Guess it was a slow news day on the "bitching about non-problems" desk at the LA times.

      Yes. The first thing I thought of was the sawmill bus that used to take me to and from work at the mill (circa 1980). there's a "bubble" alright and the journalist is totally unaware he's looking out rather than in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:45PM (#44569167)

    Quote: the sharpening division between those who are riding the high-tech industry's good fortunes and those who are not.'"

    How 'bout a little perspective? I'm not riding on one of those buses, but I do recognize the fact that the people who do aren't just lucky. They are actually contributing to the "good fortunes", which trickle down to everybody else.

    Sorry if you are one of those who only get a trickle, but that's a lot better than nothing - especially if you contribute nothing.

    If you want to get "upstream", try going to school for something useful (like STEM) and not liberal arts.

  • This is nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:46PM (#44569175)

    Railroads have had private commuter club cars for a century. A bunch of wealthy people get together, purchase or lease a train car, add nice seating, waitstaff, & amenities, and pay Amtrak/Metro North/CNWR to haul it around with their regular commuter trains. In exchange for not sitting with the riff-raff, they subsidize everyone else's fare.

    Every so often, some young journalist realizes that rich people can afford nicer stuff and attempts to spin it into a scandal.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:49PM (#44569201)

    This is a logical extension of the sort of the carefully cultivated isolation you encounter on a university campus. Why subject your employees to the outer-world that is - let's face it - such a nuisance and an eye-sore. Who wants to deal with the unpleasantness of ghetto-fabulous Oakland or South San Francisco? Fuck that. Reality is for suckers.

    To be fair, Silicon Valley merely compounds a problem that's been in the Bay Area for a while now - namely the ghetto-ization and nimby-ism that's been going on for decades now. The left-wing excesses begun in the sixties and seventies are now coming home to roost, though a lot of ex-hippies get to watch the drama unfold from the comfort of their homes in the Berkeley hills. Why yes I do bitter much.

    • This is a logical extension of the sort of the carefully cultivated isolation you encounter on a university campus.

      Not NYU - their "campus" is called Greenwich Village.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      In fact the two main operators of employees-only bus networks in San Francisco are:

      1. Google [discussed here]

      2. UC San Francisco [ucsf.edu]

  • Oil sands workers in Ft. McMurray.

    The plants send out buses to pick up workers early in the morning, pretty much door to door service. Sys admins, truck drivers, and execs. BTW: truck drivers (big trucks - 400 ton) are highly valued, more so than lowly sys admins/IT workers.

    Buses come early and suburb house lights are all out by 10pm. Next day same same all over again.

    Lots of money to be made and not a lot of folk believe they are in a long term position.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:54PM (#44569245)

    So organized door-to-door mass transit, reduces the environmental impact of rush hour, reduces roadway congestion in an already congested area, removing the need to drive the commute, your fellow passengers will be co-workers, so it's expected that they'll maintain a reasonable level of public decency, and you don't have to find and subsequently pay for parking, and it's not being paid for with taxes but as a perk to attract more workers - and somehow this is a class warfare thing?

    This is just a capitalistic thing.

    You wanna know how you can get on those luxury buses that ferry people from point A to a company's door? Just work for the company. You wanna know how you can get those big salaries that are driving the gentrification of the worst parts of town, making them safe and livable for a family? Just work for the company. You wanna know how you can end up a millionaire? Have an idea, work it, and sell it or start up a company to grow it.

    This isn't a class barrier, it's a time, effort, skill, and experience thing. That's how our economic system works.

    It does suck that an area becoming a better class of neighborhood results in raised rents, but that is literally the price to be paid. The good news is that the more affluent individuals are in an area, the better it is for everyone. It might not increase in equal measures, but it's been well documented - average pay goes up in those areas, following the trend for cost of living.

    It's not like a downtown of a city is ever going to be static. It was different than it was 20 years ago, and 20 years before that, and so on. It's always changing, and there's not anything wrong with that. Besides, what comes to mind when I think of a successful anti-gentrification trend is Detroit.

    You don't want to end up like them.

    • by neonKow (1239288)

      While I'll agree that the buses are a good thing, I suggest you read up more about gentrification before thinking that it's something so easily solved by working for the company.

      It's a real problem because the general effect is that it only serves to drive out existing residents and businesses. Poverty is linked to higher crime, so yes, it makes a area safer to live in, but only by displacing the people who gave it its character in the first place, and who are most likely to be socially involved. Also, it

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @06:56PM (#44569263) Homepage

    Google has to ferry their people. Mountain View voted down Google's plan to build a 1000-unit dorm complex. [mv-voice.com]

    Bear in mind that most Google employees are not "techies". They're sales reps selling ads. When you think Google, think "Mad Men", not rocket science.

    • Re:Commuting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:42PM (#44569663)

      That's what I love about Silly Valley. On the one hand they complain about not being able to get enough people, in part because housing is too expensive, and on the other hand they won't allow construction of new, preferably higher density, housing. Either you want to be a major tech hub, or you want to be a low density suburb. Sorry folks, you can't have it both ways.

    • by swillden (191260)

      Bear in mind that most Google employees are not "techies". They're sales reps selling ads. When you think Google, think "Mad Men", not rocket science.

      Um, roughly 50% of Google's 40,000 full-time employees are software engineers. The other half make up everything else. I don't know numbers for sales reps, but I'd be surprised if they comprised 20% of the FTEs.

  • My company is located very near Microsoft's Redmond campus, and the situation is the same here. MS runs a large fleet of various people-carrying vehicles that pick up Microsofties all around the area. All the while the mass transit that serves the rest of us is going downhill fast. Every time I turn around MS is working hard to avoid paying more taxes. Gotta love those guys.
  • The real world is that public transit between SF and the peninsula sucks badly: it's slow, dirty, and inconvenient. You can't realistically commute from SF to SV by public transit unless you want to spend four hours doing it. So, the only real-world choice people used to have is to commute in their own cars. But that causes congestion, both in SF and on the highways. And now when tech companies spend a boatload of money trying to relieve the congestion and making life better for everybody, they are accused

    • Politically I lean pretty heavily to the left, but even I shake my head when it comes to San Francisco. Moscow on the Bay. But it's not so much that they're so left wing, as that they're bizarre and self-contradictory. We want a vibrant hi-tech city, but we don;t want it too expensive to live in. Yeah, I'd like to have my cake and eat it too, but it doesn't work.

  • by drolli (522659) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @07:18PM (#44569455) Journal

    Now the people who work hard and are not egocentric enough to fill the highway by their personal ton of steel senslessly produced are having a "luxury". Company busses exist in Europe and Japan since a very long time, connecting the next station/city with big branches of a company, even for factory workers.

    It is cost efficient and you have workers who are fresh and relaxed when they arrive at work. It makes economic sense for the company. Meetings start on time. It makes sense traffic-wise (for the space which one bus takes you can maybe have 3 cars, but there may be up to 60 people in the bus).

    Further indicaiton that the article is biased: Coaches have air conditioning? That does not make them "luxury coaches". Every car driving there has air condition. The city busses in the city where i live have air conditioning. It is reasonable to have it in such climate. Plush seats? Really? No please tell me: The seat in the cars are probably made of wood. And When did the last time travel in a normal travel bus when the seat where not soft seats? The time that publi transport had wooden seats only is a long time ago. Wireless interent access? The budget bus line in germany has wireless interent access, as have the high-speed trains in germany, japan, austria, france (these are the countries i know of). Having interenet access in a mass transit system makes sense. Just because it does not make sense in a [personal car does not mean it is "luxury". If your employees can chek the mail on the way to work, this qquickly pays off.

    So the bottom line is: This is not isolating the employees from the real world" but it is ecologically, economically, and socially reasonable approach. Only a complete moron woud turn around the need to hide yourself in your own car (and pay for it) as a sing of "being connected to the world". Instead of affording a car in a 40km ouside suburb i prefer to pay a little more rent, accept that there are time when the bus goes, get in the queue and relax, and do my private things by subway and walking/cycling.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      If you have the time to read it, the article in the New Yorker is much more interesting. The /. summary is poor -- to much focus on the buses. The point with the buses is only to illustrate how the tech workers are insulating themselves from the communities, and their general attitude to government.

      Compare what's normal here: companies provide interest-free loans to staff for buying annual train/bus tickets. They join in with the public system, rather than creating their own. The article has other example

  • Almost all the tech companies in Bangalore, Chennai, Bombay and Pune do this. Not just for top techies, for their entire work force. This practice started ages ago when factories were built far from the city but with major work force coming from the city. So factories would build "quarters" for essential staff who had to come at all odd hours, and bus the workers in for day shifts. The bus fleets of big public sector companies in Bangalore like BEL, HMT, ITT, HAL etc used to be comparable or even bigger tha
  • "Every weekday starting at dawn and continuing late into the evening, a shiny fleet of unmarked buses rolls through the streets of San Francisco .. that ease the stress of navigating congested Bay Area roadways"

    The reason the roadways are congested is that the car lobby [wikipedia.org] acted to shut-down the public transport system way back in the early twentieth century.
    • That whole thing is seriously overblown. Yes it happened, but its effect was small. In many cases GM wanted to get rid of trolleys so they could replace them with the buses they made, but they're both mass transit. Trolleys weren't exactly the ideal mass transit system either - they cost a lot to run, and ran on rigid paths which caused a lot of accidents and congestion. Don't get too nostalgic about them.

      The greatest form of mass transit ever created is the subway, but unfortunately they're very expensive

  • A comparison with Detroit in the 60's struck me as I was reading it. Certainly it was a different era, but the same hubris and ignorance seems to afflict the large firms in the tech industry as it did the Big Three. I suppose one benefit of the isolation of the tech industry is that it won't destroy the lives of so many people when it inevitably crumbles into dust.

    Also, quoth the article:

    San Francisco is becoming a city without a middle class.

    This seems to be becoming true everywhere, not just SF. The middle class is getting absorbed into an enormous economic de

    • San Francisco is becoming a city without a middle class.

      Most people who work for Google, Apple, etc. are middle class. Sure a few of them got in early and made a bundle on stock options, but most are just well paid but still very much middle class.

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:22PM (#44569981) Journal

    When those workers get to be about 35 YO, they'll be back to reality when they're looking for work and a place to live that they can afford.

    Enjoy it while you can - your ass will be kicked to the curb before you know it.

    • by swillden (191260)

      When those workers get to be about 35 YO, they'll be back to reality when they're looking for work and a place to live that they can afford.

      Enjoy it while you can - your ass will be kicked to the curb before you know it.

      Not at Google. Google employs lots of older engineers. I was hired at age 41 and I'm far from the oldest around. One of the guys I work with is in his 60s. The company still tends to be skewed towards the younger end of the demographics, but I'll bet the median age is in the low to mid-30s and rising. The Colorado office, where I work, tends to be older still, because the cost of living in the bay area drives away people with families.

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