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Fate of Ferry Commute Program for Google Employees Unclear

Two trial ferry programs will come to an end this week.

By Bay City News Service

 Google employees who have been commuting by ferry to and from Silicon Valley will take their last ride on the water Friday when two pilot programs come to an indefinite end.

 A five-day pilot program arranged with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority that started Monday has been offering ferry rides from Harbor Bay in Alameda to Redwood City for Google employees who work in Mountain View, according to the authority, which runs the San Francisco Bay Ferry. That ferry program is in addition to a 30-day pilot program that started Jan. 6 with rides between San Francisco and Redwood City for Google employees.

 Both of those programs, which are free for employees, are scheduled to end Friday.

 A Google shuttle in Redwood City has been connecting employees to the Mountain View campus.

 WETA executive director Nina Rannells said at a board meeting Thursday that she would be meeting with Google officials next Thursday to hear about the ferry experience and find out if Google plans to continue with a ferry program in the future.

 Under the program, there have been two departures from San Francisco each morning and two return trips, while from Alameda there is one morning departure and a return trip in the afternoon, she said. She said it is not certain if the Google ferries will continue to run but that the authority is "very interested in the opportunity."

 WETA board member Jeff DelBono said at the meeting at the WETA offices on Pier 9 that he has received many emails about the pilot programs. He said some people were worried that parking at Harbor Bay was filling up more quickly while the Google ferry was running. Other feedback was mostly positive, he said.

 A Google spokeswoman said the ferry trials were an effort to get employees to work in new ways aside from private buses chartered by the company.

 "We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work," according to a statement by the search engine company.

 Google officials will evaluate the trial programs and decide if the ferries should become a permanent option. Under an agreement with WETA for the pilot programs, Google is paying WETA $275 per ferry landing and renting private chartered boats to carry the passengers.

 The ferry service was arranged to not interfere with regular ferry routes and schedules for the public, Rannells said.

 Google riders are also not allowed to park in the Harbor Bay ferry parking lot or on nearby streets, Rannells said.

 Google has provided a designated lot where employees are instructed to park and a Google shuttle brings riders to the ferry dock, according to Rannells.

 Recently, Google and other tech companies have come under fire in San Francisco for providing private commuter buses for employees. Critics claim the buses disrupt public bus service and lead to higher housing costs in the city.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Barb Valley February 07, 2014 at 02:44 PM
I applaud Google's efforts to reduce traffic on 101.
Steve B February 07, 2014 at 04:05 PM
Bart should have been extended around the entire bay area 30 years ago.... its as if we all have blind folds on and only turn when we run into a wall....
Ralph Garcia February 07, 2014 at 07:46 PM
No the people (myself included) voted against. Further proof that a lot of us can't look into the future. If Google can pay for the pick up point at the 2 ports the government may be cut out and then it will get done and way cheaper than with the government.
Mary McLinden February 07, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Google (or any company) providing a free commuter option for their employees causes housing prices in San Francisco to rise? How does that even compute?
Vid Prod February 10, 2014 at 12:11 PM
The recent threat of a BART strike shows the value of CalTrain and the fact that such a strike can't tie the entire Bay Area into a catastrophic gridlock.

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