Google buses are out of control

Our pal Inna saw her life flash before her eyes this morning:

Ok not even funny anymore – I just had a terrifying moment with a Google bus turning from 24th onto valencia that nearly killed me and one other person. We had the green light still – it was very clearly green, and he just plowed into the intersection. Cars stopped and honked, people screamed, and even google’s minions waiting in line to board the thing looked up from their phones.

I don’t even know what to do – who do I complain to? Who will listen or care? It’s simply not safe for these gigantic buses to have complete reign of the streets. It’s a terrible feeling to not feel welcome in your own city- this is the icing on the cake.

I also experienced a harrowing moment last week while biking north on Valencia approaching 25th Street.  One of the behemoth buses pulled up alongside me and then tried to beat me to the stop on the NE corner, almost pinning me to the sidewalk.  Luckily I was able to maintain control of my bike and sprint past it, but damn!

I don’t drive, but if I did I would be livid with these buses.  I routinely see a tech bus chilling at a green light waiting for another tech bus in front of it to finish its business at the stop located across the intersection.  So imagine you’re stopped behind a bus at a green light and it just sits there for a couple minutes while the lights cycle through, and finally when the first bus is finsished unloading or dropping off or whatever does that green-light-chilling bus cross the intersection and awkwardly pull over in just enough of a diagonal to continue blocking the street.

Did we really kill the 26 Valencia Muni just so these giant out of-control buses could run wild?  I know it’s a broken record at this point, but just remember that these buses are another example of something that incoveniences (and sometimes endangers) the public and whose only benefit is increasing profit for private companies (by enhancing their recruiting efforts and employee productivity).

Essentially, all the buses really do is transfer the extra minutes that their employees would have to wait if they took regular public transportation along to everybody else.

Previously:


Author: Andrew Sarkarati

caution is the path to mediocrity. gliding, passionless mediocrity is all that most people think they can achieve.

48 thoughts on “Google buses are out of control”

  1. Please save these complaints until after CalTrain manages to get its shit together and add enough capacity. The last thing they need right now is even more people squeezing into their trains at rush hour.

    1. Fuck waiting, be heard. They’re not going to get rid of the buses anyway, especially not Google’s.

    2. It’s disingenuous to expect anyone to ride Caltrain to Mountain View, then board a Google bus to Google’s campus. These buses will continue until we pass a ballot initiative that FORCES all buses to pick up passengers at defined locations. Say the Transbay bus terminal in SOMA, and maybe 2-3 other places.

      These are not fucking school buses, I just have no idea why a million ballot initiatives haven’t been started. Hell maybe I’ll finally do it

      1. Then again who are we kidding. You are going to smoke one and stay couch-locked for the evening :D

      1. “I’m naive enough to believe people commuting is some sort of novel problem, and I denounce all you people with your real-world solutions to be idiots!”

  2. I have the same experiences with muni buses. And I suspect the drivers are better qualified working for Google.

  3. “The only benefit is increasing profit” seems wrong to me. If some dude (it’s usually a dude) at a tech company lives in the Mission, and doesn’t have the company bus (there are many more companies than just Google with these buses, though I understand it’s really just shorthand), is he going to walk to BART, take it to Millbrae, change to Caltrain, and then take whatever it is one takes from Caltrain to work? No. He’s gonna drive. Keeping people off the roads (one bus versus however many cars) has many benefits. The math says more accidents will happen if they’re driving, and the air quality benefits are obvious.

    Yes, bus drivers will drive dangerously sometimes. Just like all the other drivers on the road. I mutter to myself, “must be your first day behind the wheel” to probably five drivers a day on and around Valencia. I’d do it that much more if all the bus passengers were driving themselves around.

    1. You obviously have not been almost hit by one of these monstrous busses before. It is really scary and makes you wonder how bad it is going to have to get before the city actually does anything.

      1. As far as I know none of these buses have hit a pedestrian, ever. Muni has hit pedestrians as recently as February. Why hide your bias?

    2. I’d have to agree with this one… but it begs the question, how are these drivers certified or licensed? Is it just a standard commercial driver’s license? The tech companies are hiring contractors – shouldn’t these contractors be holding their drivers to a level of standard that better equips them to drive in SF, given that it’s fairly different driving in the city, than say, Palo Alto?

      My biggest gripe is that when they do manage to get onto the freeway, they sit in the far left (fast) lane, doing 60, completely oblivious to traffic backing up behind them and that there’s absolutely zero carpool lane. Doesn’t California law dictate that they should be in the right (slow) lane?

  4. If you can see the tag numbers, especially the ones from the City (what is it called? Permit? License?), you can report them to 311. Not sure if it will do anything, but I think it’s better to have a record of poor performance than nothing.

  5. Yes, because all of the other bus drivers in the city are so damn courteous.

    Google buses are a scapegoat and you know it.

  6. People privileged enough to argue the supposed similar demerits between privately and publicly managed transportation are missing the point. The city is getting richer from the outrageous property taxes gained from the residency of google employees and yet the public transportation system that is underfunded gets compared to luxury charter busses that drive recklessly.

    Glad my folks have rent control so I have something familiar to return to for the holidays.

    Thanks!

      1. Oh hello Johnny! Let me guess, you’re rocking an American Apparrel tech hoodie, on a private bus, on your way to your cushy job in Mountain View.

        Suck a dick.

    1. Please, ‘Simon’ – I suspect you have neither the balls nor bearings to to back up your Internette Rebelle comment.

      1. If the effect you were going for was “sputtering humorless fool”, then SUCCESS!

      2. Thank you for not putting my name in ironic quotes this time, ’emilie’.

  7. Maybe next time capture the license plate number. There are way too many buses in SF. If you just call and complain about the buses, you’re just another SF NIMBY. If you call and complain about a driver, you might get somewhere

  8. Those of us that actually ride public transport to get to work are painfully aware that there is not room in the system for a couple hundred thousand more meatballs to join the commute every day. MUNI and BART have consistently made money disappear for decades and their infastructure is criminally under-maintained and shown little signs of growth.

    Realistically what you would have if you did away with employee shuttles (which aren’t limited to tech, lots of hospitals and schools in the area use them as well) is a few hundred thousand new cars in the city making the commute every day and generally turning the SF/the Bay into more of a traffic/parking clusterfuck than it already is.

  9. while we’re hating on tech buses–have you ever seen one on the highway that was NOT in the HOV lane outside of carpool lane hours?

    no matter how slow they are going, i see the buses merge on the freeway, pull over into the fast lane, and camp out there, completely oblivious to the fact that they are holding up traffic.

    1. No, but I sure see a lot of awful asian drivers hogging the left lane at all hours, who will fly across four lanes to exit at the last minute. Talk about obliviousness!!!

  10. Two things. 1 The bus is turning from Valencia on to 24th St. 2 To take this picture she must have had her phone in her hand and set it to camera mode, distracted walking?

      1. Usually when a picture is not linked directly to the story it is labeled “stock photo” I was just making observations. Also with no photo credit at all it make it she, or someone with her took the picture, I blame Andrew.

  11. Um, why are these buses somehow scarier than Muni buses, which literally kill someone every 6-8 months?

  12. It’s a terrible feeling to not feel welcome in your own city… Woe, this city is a cruel mistress!

    1. Uh, aren’t you fucking hipsters doing EVERYTHING in your power to make Googlers feel unwelcome in this city, a city that is as much “theirs” as it is “yours”? Aren’t you othering them every day by protesting their very existence? The irony isn’t even funny. It’s just fucking sad.

      1. They are just mad because daddy isn’t paying enough in their trust fund to rival what the Google people are making, since they decided an art degree and/or professional activism was a great choice, and that moving to a hispanic neighborhood would be fun and edgy.

  13. I wish Google would work on automated buses, rather than automated cars. It’s nearly physically impossible for a human driver to pilot one of these things safely. The only reason things work is they’re big enough people jump out of the way.

    If you saw the video of the Google car getting rear ended, you can see that the car can see every object 360 degrees around it, know what those objects are (people, bikes, cars) and react accordingly.

    These buses cost $300-400k, adding $50k in driverless tech to them isn’t a huge expense by comparison. They probably spend that much on the mobile wifi gear.

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