Microsoft takes on Google in another arena

Back in March, I wrote about the fancy, private buses Google provides to its employees. Looks like our friendly neighborhood software giant is getting into the transportation game, too:

The Connector, a new transportation service launched by the Microsoft® Connections Transportation Program, will carry employees from their residential neighborhoods to the Redmond, Wash., campus, starting Sept. 24. In the pilot phase, The Connector will make stops in five neighborhoods covering downtown Seattle, Bothell, Mill Creek, Issaquah and Sammamish, providing a convenient, productive and comfortable means for commuting to work.

Microsoft Connector


Apparently, the Connector will serve neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of Microsoft employees. From the Seattle side, this means Queen Anne/Belltown and First Hill/Capitol Hill. With the exception, perhaps, of Queen Anne, I’m not convinced that traveling from these places on a private bus (which I assume will have limited pickup locations) will be any more convenient than transferring to the 545. Of course, it’s hard to make that determination without more information about how buses will work. If I don’t find out sooner, I’ll talk to folks who ride it on the 24th, which by the way, happens to be the same day the bus tunnel is scheduled to reopen. But I digress.

I wonder how many Seattle riders will be former 545ers (crossing my fingers that ridership doesn’t decrease enough to affect service) and how many will be SOV converts. Microsoft seems to think that the program will have quite a few converts. (Certainly, in places like Bothell and Snoqualmie, which don’t have convenient bus service to Redmond, it will.)

The company’s predictions about the environmental impact:

• The Connector service will result in 20,000 fewer cars per month and 240,000 fewer cars per year on the road.
• The Connector will eliminate approximately 3,800 tons of carbon emissions annually.
• By providing a convenient option for commuting to work, The Connector will eliminate approximately 800 vehicle trips and 32,200 miles of travel each day, significantly curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Here’s hoping.