Report: Google buses reflect region in need of traffic, housing solutions | February 8, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 8, 2013

Report: Google buses reflect region in need of traffic, housing solutions

Bay Area's 101 municipal governments ill-equipped to tackle looming regional crises

by Chris Kenrick

Google buses rolling up and down U.S. Highway 101 symbolize the new Silicon Valley — and are potent reminders that regional solutions are needed if the Bay Area is to stay economically vibrant, a new report states.

This story contains 754 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

We definitely need to get one transit authority for the Bay Area with one scheduling system and one ticket (not the pseudo clipper we have at present). One commute should be one trip on one ticket and the different modes of transit should connect - buses arrive before the train and wait until the train unloads before moving on. The stations must be the end of route not midroute.

Well done, Google, for making noise about this.

Like this comment
Posted by livability
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm

The other way to look at this is why do Google workers want to live 50 miles away in San Francisco? Most of these people are immigrants (from other parts of the country or from other countries) so they could choose to live closer to work if they wanted to. Not so long ago, Mountain View and Palo Alto were very desirable places to live if you worked at companies like Google (or before that Sun and SGI at Google's current location).

Over the last 10 or 20 years, San Francisco's diversity and livability have grown exponentially while Palo Alto and Mountain View have really stagnated with downtown areas that fall sleep soon after dark and not much else to do after work. San Francisco has really pushed at making their whole city walkable and bikeable and accessible via public transit and now dozens of different neighborhoods seem alive and vibrant and fun places to live. Markets and restaurants are right around the corner from most homes and jobs all around town are easily accessible by bicycle or transit.

Meanwhile, Palo Alto is giving up on its neighborhoods with business districts all around town being shut down and replaced by condo complexes (e.g., the Edgewood Plaza or Alma Plaza). Most Palo Alto residents now have to drive to do anything since shops are getting father and farther away. The shops that remain in town are less and less diverse, so you still have to drive out of town if you want something a little out of the ordinary. This is the boring car-centric lifestyle that young people don't want and the reason that they are all moving to San Francisco.

Can Palo Alto ever become a real livable city again or is it just aspiring to be a suburban bedroom community? Zuckerberg started up Facebook in Palo Alto because he thought this was a hip place to live. Maybe it was back then, but I bet if he were to start over today, he would build his company in San Francisco.

Like this comment
Posted by BART mistake
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

San Mateo County sccrewed up in the 70's when they declined a paltry half cent tax to be included in BART. Imagine a single transit system that rings the Bay.

SF to SFO, down to SJ, up thru Fremont to Oakland and out into the east bay.

Like this comment
Posted by livability
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

San Mateo bailed on BART in 1961. In hindsight, it is easy to blame your grandparents for that decision, but that argument is not productive going forward. The problem for our generation is how do we go forward from what we have now.

Like this comment
Posted by Not all the credit
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Not all the credit belongs to Google. There are other companies that provide buses to Silicon Valley from SF and the Central Valley. at one point, HP and Intel provided charter flights for executives living in the Central Valley and the North Coast. In the nineties, one of these company bus lines was busted for providing wine and cheese to people on the way home...the open container law had been violated. A couple of the drivers were placed in a traffic school I was attending. This is not really a Google invention, nor is it a new thing.

Apparently, for many years Santa Clara County has required that large companies who employ lots of people here to provide alternate transportation to alleviate traffic they would otherwise cause.