Google shuttles are ugly, but green
San Francisco residents object to Google shuttles driving through their neighborhoods, but a report finds significant environmental benefits to the buses.
Fri, Dec 04, 2009 at 02:42 PM
The big, white buses emblazoned with Google logos that travel through the Mission and Noe Valley neighborhoods of San Francisco every day aren’t exactly welcomed by most local residents.
Some complain about the ugly, sun-blotting silhouette of the buses, which shuttle some 2,500 Google employees to the company’s headquarters in Mountain View. Others, like Vicki Rosen, think the buses are environmentally unfriendly.
“There are buses idling; we don't want that even if they run partially on biofuel," Rosen, president of Upper Noe Neighbors, told SF Weekly.
Objections to the corporate shuttles led to a study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which looked into the role of corporate shuttles in the city’s transportation system.
While it's true that the oversized, air-conditioned buses operated by Google and other companies aren’t pretty, they are an earth-friendly way to get commuters to and from work, the study found
If not for the shuttles, 63 percent of regional shuttle passengers would be driving solo to work, putting more cars on the road and adding far more pollution to the atmosphere. About 28 percent of riders don’t own a car, so the shuttles may be facilitating a car-free lifestyle for some.
The shuttles do have some downsides — especially when they are driven down narrow streets not intended for vehicles of that size — but all in all, they’re a good thing for the environment.
“Shuttles play a valuable role in the overall San Francisco transportation system,” the report concludes.