Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and other tech companies including Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) will have to pay San Francisco city to use the city bus stops. Private commuter buses that ferry workers have become a symbol of unwelcome gratification in the city. San Francisco city said in a press conference that companies that rely on commuter buses will be paying more than $1.5 million over the next 18 months under a pilot program.
Protesters target Google buses
The pilot program will bring a permit system for commuter buses that carry more than 45,000 workers from San Francisco city to Silicon Valley-based tech companies. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency system has more than 2,500 bus stops. But commuter buses will have permission to use only 200 of them. They will also have to follow certain guidelines such as avoiding narrow streets, giving preference to Muni buses, and make sure that there is sufficient room for other buses at bus stops.
The SMTA board is scheduled to vote on the program later this month. City officials said tech companies such as Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) actively participated in creating the program. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s manager of government affairs, Veronica Bell, said in a statement that the pilot program is an important first step. Last month, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) buses were targeted in several protests.
Commuter buses ease traffic
San Francisco city officials said that they will charge $1 per stop per day. It will generate approximately $100,000 per tech company using commuter buses. This revenue will be spent on running the pilot program and to upgrade certain bus stops. City regulations don’t allow SMTA to collect more than the cost of offering services.
There have increasingly been protests against tech workers and commuter buses. Many groups have urged the tech industry to maintain the affordability, culture and diversity of San Francisco. Rents in the city have risen to the highest in the country. Young techies have pushed up the rent in many neighborhoods.
Protesters have said commuter buses crowd bus stops and snatch potential customers from the public transportation systems. However, commuter-bus supporters argue that they have helped ease traffic in the city because tech employees skip driving to ride the buses.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares jumped 0.45% to $1,122.31 in pre-market trading Tuesday.