Google Staff Bus Halted By Angry Protests

Strike protest complaint arms fists © Shutterstock Suzanne Tucker

Residents in San Francisco stopped a bus carrying Google staff to protest at its contribution to local coffers

A Google commuter bus that transports staff to and from their San Francisco neighbourhoods to their workplace some 34 miles away in Mountain View, California, was hit by a protest.

The Google bus was blocked from proceeding by a group who oppose the buses for traffic and economic reasons.

Tech Concern

The incident was reported in a story by Reuters, which said that the stoppage highlighted “many residents’ growing concern that an influx of affluent technology workers is driving up costs in the city.”

taxes002 © jamesbin - FotoliaThe dozen protesters carried hand-lettered signs with messages against the use of the buses, according to a separate report by The San Francisco Chronicle. The event was reportedly organised by the San Francisco anti-gentrification group, Heart of the City. The group’s slogan on its home page reads: “Tech boom 2.0 is busting the heart of San Francisco. Fight back to save our city refuge & neighborhoods!”

The group’s Website says that it opposes the use of such commuter buses by companies like Google, Facebook and Apple because they use city streets, tie up traffic and don’t pay their share of city costs and fees, according to the site.

“We’re stopping the injustice in the city’s two-tier system where the public pays and the private corporations gain,” the group states on its Website. “Rents and evictions are on the rise. Tech-fueled real estate speculation is the culprit. We say: Enough is Enough! The local government, especially Mayor Lee, has given tech the keys to shape the city to their fancy without the public having any say in it. We say, let’s take them back!”

The group says on its Website that a key complaint with the use of the private commuter buses by large technology companies such as Google is that they “use over 200 [San Francisco] MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (Monday-Friday) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure. No vehicles other than MUNI are allowed to use these stops. If the tech industry was fined for each illegal use for the past 2 years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion (£608m) to the city. We demand they PAY UP or GET OUT!”

To bolster its claims, the group states that if those fines were collected it would provide $1 billion in revenue to the city that could be used for affordable housing initiatives, eviction defence programs, public transit service improvements and legislation initiatives to prevent speculators from using existing laws to evict residents so that higher rents could be charged for properties.

Affordable Living

“We want a San Francisco where people can afford to live,” the group states on the site. “The city needs to declare a state of emergency, stop all no-fault evictions, and prevent tech companies from running buses in residential neighbourhoods, which is driving up rents (up to 20 percent along their route).”