Recently, critics of the private commuter buses that tech companies provide to their employees in the San Francisco Bay Area have argued that these so-called “Google buses” actually aren’t all that good for the environment because they encourage tech workers to live further away from work and displace lower income residents who then have to commute further to work in San Francisco every day.
But they’re wrong, according to Mother Jones’ Kiera Butler. The buses take between 1,400 and 3,075 cars, and the carbon dioxide emissions they produce, off the road every year. And while 40 percent of tech workers have said they would move closer to work if there were no private buses, Silicon Valley doesn’t have the housing stock to support them. So even if there were no displacement of long-time residents in San Francisco, those tech workers would still have to commute from somewhere else.
Butler suggests more housing be built in Silicon Valley or San Francisco — a hard sell to those already living there — or that the Googles of the world invest in creating a great public transit system, instead of their own private system.
Google busses have become a controversial symbol of gentrification in San Francisco, where skyrocketing home prices and rents have sparked demonstrations from those who place the blame on tech workers. Recently, protesters blocked shuttle buses taking workers to Google and Facebook and stopped at the San Francisco Association of Realtors’ headquarters on their way to a rally at City Hall.