Tag Archives: Google

Transportation in the news

DC Metro refuses to share data with Google

Three years after the launch of Google Transit, which gives directions using transit on Google Maps, and after constant requests by riders and bloggers, WMATA’s Director of Customer Service, Brett Tyler, announced their decision that participating in Google Transit is “not in our best interest from a business perspective.”

(Source: Greater Greater Washington, via Streetsblog)

Link found between “active transportation” and lean population

New research illustrates the health benefits of regular biking, walking or taking public transportation to work, school or shopping. Researchers found a link between “active transportation” and less obesity in 17 industrialized countries across Europe, North America and Australia.


Americans, with the highest rate of obesity, were the least likely to walk, cycle or take mass transit … The authors say it’s more than lifestyle choices that lead Americans to use their cars more. [Can you say “carism”?] Europe’s compact, dense layout and infrastructure are more conducive to getting around without a car.

(Source: MSNBC)

More people in NYC, but not more traffic

As the city’s economy soared and its population grew from 2003 through 2007, something unusual was happening on the streets and in the subway tunnels.

All those tens of thousands of new jobs and residents meant that more people were moving around the city, going to work, going shopping, visiting friends. And yet, according to a new city study, the volume of traffic on the streets and highways remained largely unchanged, in fact declining slightly. Instead, virtually the entire increase in New Yorkers’ means of transportation during those robust years occurred in mass transit, with a surge in subway, bus and commuter rail riders.

(Source: NYT)

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.

Speaking of busing to work…

Google, it seems, is providing free transportation to its employees. Yesterday, Bus Nerd’s friend Alex sent me this article from the New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, a region known for some of the worst traffic in the nation, Google, the Internet search engine giant and online advertising behemoth, has turned itself into Google, the mass transit operator. …

The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.

I love that Google is taking responsibility for how its employees get to and from work (and I’m loving that their efforts are apparently reducing the number of people who drive to Mountain View), but I have a hard time believing that a system with 1,200 passengers spread over roughly 200 miles is especially efficient.

They pick up workers as far away as Concord, 54 miles northeast of the Googleplex, as the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters are known, and Santa Cruz, 38 miles to the south. The system’s routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region’s BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks.

Employees who live in far off towns where very few other employees live probably have very limited travel times. If they don’t, the shuttles are probably taking a lot of two- and three-person trips.

Google could probably make a much greater dent in Bay Area traffic (if not as great an impression on potential employees) by:

1) Partnering with local transit agencies to increase/improve service in areas where it has high concentrations of employees.
2) Giving employees free transit passes (it’s highly possible they already do this).
3) Allowing employees who are willing to share office space to work from home at least one day per week.

Ideal system or not, one thing’s for sure: Employees who spend their commutes kicked back in leather seats with free wi-fi get a lot more work done than those who are stuck staring at other folks’ tail lights.