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Google Transportation Politics

Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-they-need-to-format-their-destination-query-properly dept.
theodp writes "The LA Times reports that Google will fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids in a move to quiet the controversy surrounding tech-driven gentrification in San Francisco. In a statement, Google said, 'San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops. So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students [an existing program] for the next two years.' SF Mayor Ed Lee said, 'I want to thank Google for this enormous gift to the SFMTA, and I look forward to continuing to work with this great San Francisco employer towards improving our City for everyone.' But not all were impressed. 'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,' said Erin McElroy of the SF Anti-Eviction Mapping Project."
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Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor

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  • I don't get it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2014 @06:21AM (#46380317)

    The land of the Free.

    But not so free as to be able to pick up passengers while stopped on a public road.

    For that you need papers and baksheesh.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @06:38AM (#46380357)

    Even when given the choice to telecommute, I often choose not to. I often find its much easier to get work done face to face, that and when you're in an actual work environment (or at least, aren't at home) there are fewer distractions.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @06:41AM (#46380361) Homepage Journal
    Same here, I think we let work encroach into personal life enough as it is. Home is home, I want nothing to do with work at home.
  • "Unfair"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @06:48AM (#46380375) Homepage

    'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,' said Erin McElroy of the SF Anti-Eviction Mapping Project."

    This truly bothers me. This guy is like the members of MADD who are upset with ride programs because it means people won't get caught for DUI. Or those who are gleeful when civlians die in a way that proves their point.

    When it comes to something like donating money to help poor kids, I don't care who is doing it or why. I care that the kids are being helped. It's obvious who views them as political pawns when one person feels it's "unfair" that they are receiving financial assistance because it doesn't play into his picture of the world. I'll bet Mr. Erin McElroy donates exactly $0 to help these kids out.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:15AM (#46380429) Homepage
    How does Google employees waiting at bus stops cost the city money? Where's this loss coming from that Google must compensate for? Or is this just knee-jerk hostility from the usual suspects?
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:36AM (#46380461) Homepage

    1. Corporation does nothing to help the poor.
    - Evil.
    2. Corporation does something to help the poor.
    - PR move.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:40AM (#46380473)

    > On the other hand, some people are quite compfortable wallowing in that sh!t.

    "some" as far as I can tell from people researching on it seems to be "a tiny minority, and usually only for a fairly limited time". And who knows what they do when they work. I see little point in designing society around a tiny and honestly irrelevant minority.

  • Stolen PR move. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:41AM (#46380475)

    'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,'

    Ironically, when I read this statement, it sounded like a line straight out of Big Tobacco's Advertising 101 playbook.

    Don't be so quick to judge. At least when Google does PR, they don't kill millions of people in the process selling their product.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:55AM (#46380505) Homepage
    They should just have the employees picked up from privately owned locations whenever possible. I'm sure malls and stuff would like the extra foot traffic especially from Google employees who would probably have a little disposable income.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:57AM (#46380511)

    More to the point. Google offered this service as a benifit to their employees. In a world where are employee benifits are getting whacked every year in both unioned and non unioned shops. Why should we get so outrage that a company is offering benifits?

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:58AM (#46380513)

    Absolutely not, companies should be required to do things that make no economic sense.

    We should also extend that to individuals, in order to promote more balanced dining establishments, you should be required to eat at places you don't want to eat at instead of just cherry picking where you eat.

  • by davide marney (231845) <davide.marneyNO@SPAMnetmedia.org> on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:08AM (#46380533) Journal

    "in Oakland, according to reports from IndyBay, as protesters unfurled two giant banners reading "TECHIES: Your World Is Not Welcome Here" and "Fuck off Google", "a person appeared from behind the bus and quickly smashed the whole of the rear window"

    "So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students [an existing program] for the next two years.'"

    One of these groups is judged by our society as being "evil" and the other as "progressive".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:09AM (#46380539)

    "Should this mythical land of the free allow you to run a bus service with vehicles that are a menace to its passengers or other road users?"

    They're not a menace. That's emotional talk from someone who feels as if they want to be taken care of by others.

    "Would you mind if this bus service cherry-picks the profitable routes, so that companies that try to offer more balanced public transport go bankrupt?"

    Yes. Google is allowed to run a bus service for it's employees without regard to whatever service San Francisco wants to run. Maybe San Fran ought to hire Google to run it's busses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:18AM (#46380559)

    and allow them to avoid contact with the less fortunate.

    Tell ya what. Convince the "less fortunate" (most of whom made bad decisions like getting knocked up) to be less violent, to act like they have the slightest bit of class, to really hate stealing, and generally to value leaving other people alone, and us terrible horrible people who don't want to associate with them will change our minds.

    Till then, you can keep on demonizing anyone who doesn't want to be mugged that day.

  • by mellon (7048) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:26AM (#46380581) Homepage

    It would be absolutely awesome of Samtrans or Muni provided a service similar to what the Google buses provide, but they don't, and they have actively worked to avoid doing so. So the activists really have no leg to stand on here. They should be trying to fix public transit in the bay area, not prevent people from working around its brokenness.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rasmusbr (2186518) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @09:04AM (#46380687)

    How does Google employees waiting at bus stops cost the city money? Where's this loss coming from that Google must compensate for? Or is this just knee-jerk hostility from the usual suspects?

    Well, it is probably not a coincidence that gentrification became an official problem about when it got to where white middle class people began to get priced out of inner city neighborhoods.

  • by lexman098 (1983842) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @10:02AM (#46381011)

    I have a feeling most of the upset people are renters. The property owners are all too glad for the influx of rich tenants. It sucks for the renters of course because rent goes up, but their income doesn't. They're being pushed out of their home while they see a private bus full of yuppies drive by. It's an easy target.

    Quite obviously, an influx of wealth to a particular area can be a good thing, but city planners have to make the most of it. This seems to be a case of stagnant development at a time when they need it most. [techcrunch.com]

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @10:49AM (#46381255) Journal
    But the community had to pay for a bit of yellow paint to mark the bus-stop and a Festivus pole to fix a sign with 'Bus-Stop' on it. That 'investment' needs to generate money!

    This, so much this.

    Seriously, San Francisco - What the fuck? I don't understand why this even counts as an issue - Would it really help your budget that much if you could force Google and company to take public transit to work? Or more likely, would it just massively increase congestion on your roads and make the average SF'er bitch about those damned geeks driving up the cost of parking spaces?

    Like it or not, Silicon Valley didn't destroy SF, it made SF. You want to go back to the 1970s? [designboom.com] Just move to Detroit today, and enjoy your cheap housing and everything that comes with it.

    The Google buses amount to nothing more than carpools, an environmentally friendly way to move a few thousand people from home to work and back every day. Just admit it, this has nothing to do with public transit, and everything to do with gentrification - Not a bad word, BTW, it just means making the slums safe for human habitation again.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @10:53AM (#46381267) Journal

    Exactly. The cure for inequality is to bring them down a bit. To hell with elevating everyone else up, it's too hard. But taking and taking and taking until they are like the rest is easy.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pauljlucas (529435) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @11:18AM (#46381379) Homepage Journal

    How does Google employees waiting at bus stops cost the city money?

    On the one hand, they generally don't cost the city money; but it does give tech shuttles a free pass at using city bus stops that, if you or I stopped at (and were caught), we'd have to pay a fine.

    On the other hand, they do cost the city money in that that can (and do) delay the actual city busses from stopping at the stops and, as the adage goes, time is money. (The slower a bus goes, the more potential overtime the city will have to pay and the more busses the city will need to use for a given route to maintain the same headway [wikipedia.org].)

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @11:52AM (#46381567)

    Does your assumption still hold when the guy next door accomplishes something by sitting on his ass at a cushy tech job for eight hours a day, while you bust your ass working two full time jobs just to be able to put food on the table for your family?

    Not everybody has the option to become a competent programmer, engineer, etc. Excelling at such occupations requires certain kinds of biological advantages that most people just don't have. The problem is that our society has been systematically eliminating most of the occupations where an honest, hard-working, but not-especially-bright-nor-politically-savvy person can make a decent living.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:09PM (#46381637) Homepage Journal

    Why should we applaud the good prince's largesses? Yes, this is actually nice, encouraging the use of public buses and giving short change for that. But I find it weird that a giant company wants to substitute itself with what should the town's/muncipality's/local government's duties. And it's a PR move anyway, one that reinforces the notion that a giant private company can appriopriate public space, pay little to no tax and do whatever it wants with no accountability.

    You don't understand what's going on here.

    People have been complaining that Google uses public bus stops without paying for them. Google thought that was reasonable and offered to pay the city for the use of the stops, but state law doesn't allow the city to charge a reasonable amount for their use. So, Google and the city worked out what they thought would be a reasonable amount, and Google is paying that in the form of a donation, buying bus passes for kids. Meanwhile, Google is helping the city lobby to change the state law, so that the company can simply pay for the right to use the bus stops.

    Google has been trying to do the right things here, from beginning to end. Providing buses reduces congestion and greenhouse gases, and is a nice perk for employees who want to live in the city.

    Google hides its profits in the Carribean and pays no taxes. What about fixing that. Hire well paid accountant/fiscalist lawyer types to try and close as many of those fucking tax loopholes as they can.

    Are you proposing that the city should do that? The city doesn't have any right or power to tax Google (though it collects a lot of property taxes and sales taxes from the Google employees who live in the city, as well as property and other taxes for Google's building in the city). The taxes you're talking about that Google manages to avoid are largely federal, so San Francisco wouldn't see a dime of them anyway. Frankly, no one would see anything; they'd disappear into the federal deficit without making a ripple.

    In any case, not only is your tax argument completely irrelevant to the question, it's pretty ridiculous. Do you pay more federal taxes than you have to? If a company can legally avoid paying billions, do you seriously expect them to volunteer it? If you really think this is a problem, talk to your representatives about changing the federal laws.

    Personally, I think that corporate taxes, like all other forms of hidden taxation, are evil. All taxes are ultimately paid by the people as a whole, and taxing various, intermediate cash flows obscures how much the people are paying. Money Google pays in taxes is money that can't be paid to investors (which is taxed as capital gains), can't pay employees (which is taxed as income), can't spend on goods and services (which are taxed in all sorts of ways -- some of them also evil), and can't invest (which pushes the money to other companies which may buy stuff, pay employees, etc.). Taxes are necessary, but they should be transparent. Property taxes are good. Income taxes are good, including capital gains income taxes -- though mandatory withholdings are obnoxious. Sales taxes are okay, and it's even fine to tax different goods differently -- taxing luxury cars harder than food, for example, makes sense. The key is that all taxes should be directly paid by and be visible to the voters.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:46PM (#46381853) Homepage

    wow, 5 years out, still blaming bush? You need to move on.

    Blame Bush?

    Hell, I still blame Reagan.

  • Re:"Unfair"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by indeterminator (1829904) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:50PM (#46381891)

    can get away with the continuing destruction of the neighborhoods where there is affordable housing

    If a bus line "destroys the neighborhood", you have bigger problems than the bus line.

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