A seat on the bus

Google joins tech firms to form transit agency

Google is known for operating a huge private transit system, shuttling thousands of employees to and from Mountain View on big, white buses that are now iconic for the company's dominance in Silicon Valley. But soon Google is expected to share buses with employees of other companies -- and members of the public.

On Oct. 24, Google is expected to join Intuit, Samsung and two developers for the first meeting of the Mountain View Transportation Management Association, a City Council-created requirement for several new office developments in Mountain View. The agency will collectively run shuttles for major employers in the city, and run a new publicly accessible route between corporate campuses and downtown.

Aside from keeping solo car drivers off the road, the association's effectiveness will be in reducing the number of nearly empty employee shuttles in town, while potentially coordinating other efforts to reduce car trips. Possibilities include paying for a new shared parking garage that keeps North Bayshore employees from driving on an increasingly gridlocked Shoreline Boulevard, or new bike-share facilities. Such measures will be increasingly important as the city is now requiring "mode share" targets for new offices -- on Tuesday, Intuit promised to the City Council that only 45 percent of its employees would drive alone to a new campus at 2600 Marine Way.

Reduced traffic isn't the only way the public will benefit. The transportation management association (TMA) is required by the city to run a shuttle service to and from downtown that is available to the public.

"We will create a publicly accessible shuttle that will link our campus, VTA, Caltrain and downtown Mountain View," said Denise Pinkston, chair of the Mountain View agency's board and a partner with developer TMG, which is developing a campus for Samsung on the 600 block of Clyde Avenue.

Because it is not yet a requirement, Pinkston said she couldn't guarantee there would be a publicly accessible shuttle service to and from North Bayshore. Residents have long desired a frequent bus service to North Bayshore's movie theaters, restaurants and other entertainment venues, as well as Shoreline Park. Council member Jac Siegel said it was likely to happen soon.

"I really believe it will go into effect within next six months to a year," Siegel said. "Nothing like that exists now. People want to go to the movies, they want to go to Shoreline Park. We think that's a big benefit to the people of Mountain View."

Siegel said it was likely that such a shuttle to North Bayshore would even operate on nights and weekends. He added that such an arrangement is something Google would not have volunteered to do before.

"One of the things that is exciting about it is that Intuit has already said that anybody can use their shuttles -- Google initially said we're not going to do that," Siegel said.

Intuit officials told the City Council on Tuesday that its shuttles to and from Marine Way, near Shoreline Park's West entrance, are open to the public, though Siegel expressed concern about whether the public knew this.

Pinkston said Google and other companies would likely continue to run their own shuttle programs, but efforts would be made with the TMA to make sure as many routes as possible were not "duplicated."

The effort has so far been spearheaded by TMG partners, which has experience creating such a service in Emeryville beginning in the 1980s called Emery Go-Round that connects BART with a shopping mall, Pixar, and other employers. The service publishes maps and schedules online.

"We take thousands of cars off the road everyday," Pinkston said of Emery Go-Round, which she said MTMA would be modeled after. "It had a huge impact on that community. The hope is that Mountain View's TMA will have a significant impact on the quality of life in Mountain View."

Mountain View's TMA is likely to grow as developers and tech companies are required to join as a condition of new development in Mountain View. Google apparently got the message that it would probably be required to join the TMA soon when it propose its first major office development in Mountain View to the City Council.

Pinkston said the MTMA has many decisions to make over the coming year, such as how the buses will be branded, what exactly the routes and schedules will be and how the endeavor will be publicized, among other things. The association recently formed as a non-profit that is not subject to laws requiring publicly accessible meetings, Pinkston said, though city officials will be involved.

"It's a big deal to have all of these companies with incredibly divergent interests to sit down at the table together to work on a common solution," Pinkston said "Each party brings to the table different business practices and different transit needs, but I think together we're really going to do some interesting stuff."

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3 people like this
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm

This will work so long as the VTA is kept out of the loop. Their participation will only screw this up.

4 people like this
Posted by konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm

This is good news!

It is time that Google became a better neighbor and did more for Mountain View.

Google, Intuit and Samsung are world class companies that produce results.
I agree that it is essential to keep VTA and our VTA Board Member out of this.

3 people like this
Posted by Martha
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Glad to hear of this generous gesture by Google.

3 people like this
Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

This is GREAT news. I can envision riding these busses even if the only route is from downtown to Google-land along Shoreline Blvd. I look forward to hearing more about these plans, and hope they are implemented soon!

6 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the good news. The idea, assuming it means the shuttles will be paid for by the companies as the existing shuttles are, is a nice extension of transit to North of Bayshore.

I do have a quibble, however: You said, "Google is known for operating the largest private transit system in the world." Really? Have you ever been to Walt Disney World? I'm pretty sure their buses outnumber Google's by a lot, and run from morning to night connecting all the Disney hotels to all the Disney parks. (Some buses even go park to park.) And that's not even counting their three, count 'em three, monorail lines, their ferries and other transportation boats. (Of course they also have transportation as entertainment: the Magic Kingdom railroad, Storybook Land, and more exotic rides such as the Matterhorn bobsleds and Space Mountain.) I suspect the transit system to get guests from far flung parking lots to the parks at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is also bigger than Google's.

3 people like this
Posted by Roman
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

A monorail rail! Now that's finally a great idea.
All Googlies and other dot-com employees can park at
Moffett Field (already paved) and ride a overhead monorail to work.
Much less traffic on Shoreline. Doesn't disturb Stevens Creek or nature areas.
City council and Google get together and make this happen.
Makes more sense then a line-up of 2 or 3 of their gigantic busses completely blocking 1 of only 2 lanes each way on Shoreline to let out the 1 bus rider during the day creating even more gridlock.

3 people like this
Posted by teletubby
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Instead of doing all these, they should encourage more people to work from home and start developing wings that people can attach to their bodies and start flying. Shoreline Blvd is a traffic nightmare or may be they should rent office spaces in every city from San Franciso to San Jose instead of people commuting long distances to Mountain View. BTw, the wings idea is a joke. I won't want some liberal nutjob replying to this comment about the wings.

3 people like this
Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

I am hopeful some of these busses will be going down my street, and that I will be able to hop on them to get downtown or to get out to North Bayshore on occasion. Good progress all around.

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

It would be nice if Google and MV also considered building and supporting ferry service to/from MV/Shoreline to/from Oakland/SF/Berkeley etc. This would really help eliminate unneeded cars from 101 to MV and would be faster and a pleasant addition to transportation options. Google, do you read these comments?

4 people like this
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I really want to like Google. I use them, but there's just something about them that isn't cool. Why do they feel the need to take over every inch of available land in Mt. View? Can't they expand somewhere else? They're branching out into areas of business that seem really odd to me (Web Link). I dunno... maybe I'm old-school, but I have participated here in Silicon Valley long enough to have see the fall of many a mighty empire. They say, Do No Evil" but I'm not buyin it.

3 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Ferry boats have a draft of about 5 ft. How long do you think it would take Google (or anyone else) to get approval to dredge a 1-2 mile channel through the wetlands so a ferry could dock anywhere near Shoreline?

4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm

If other options are not available, then there is a limit to growth that has to seriously be accepted by google, mv, the city council, mayor, and everyone. more is not better.

3 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm

This is the type of thinking that will change public transit. High speed luxury buses up and down the Peninsula stopping at highway exit ramps with parking lots, designed to get commuters where they work from where they live, available to all with high speed internet.

At last, innovative public transit that will work.

3 people like this
Posted by Google Bus Near Miss
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 26, 2013 at 7:07 am

And when the bus drivers stop driving like their heads are on fire the people in their way on 101 might actually be safer. This all comes crashing down when the first of these crazed drivers kills someone. Then Google is sues and that's not good for the bottom line so it ends.
Google better REALLY focus on their bus drivers because I think they are one of Google's biggest potential (local) liabilities.

3 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

Thats what we need, an if bus.

If the bus is not full of our workers, if it goes the place you want, if you meet the drivers dress code (sorry homeless) if the schedule does not change If the route does not change. If we want to publish the routes, No regulation means no one but the head google to respond to. Perhaps if this is run like bus route 10 free to all it just means VTA out of business.

4 people like this
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

Expanding on what Doug said, C'mon Mr.Debolt, where do you get your facts? I seriously doubt your statement is true.

For example, BMW has a private bus fleet of 300 buses stopping at 1500 stops, transporting 15,000 of the 18,500 employees that work at their Dingolfing production plant.

I know google's got a bunch of buses, but largest in the world?

3 people like this
Posted by SP Phil
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I'm not sure what is the point of the ongoing thread about whose transportation network is larger.

What I'd like to have is buses traveling back and forth on Shoreline from El Camino Real to Shoreline Park. I like to walk there and it would save traffic and parking for everyone if there were bus service.

About VTA: Look at Stanford's Marguerite system which "plays nicely" alongside VTA, with sensibly located stops and routes. Is the anti-VTA sentiment from people who actually use VTA (I do), or from those who like to knock government services?

3 people like this
Posted by FreeFood TodayBus
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Free Food to Free Bus, Doesn't City Welcomes businesses to improve local businesses? MV City Change City Name to GOOGLE CITY ALL YOU SEE ARE GOOGLE TALL BUILDINGS AND TALL BUSSES AROUND CITY. NO MORE VIEW OF THE EAST AND WEST MOUNTAINS. .

3 people like this
Posted by MV_Since1965
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm


Google has offices all over the bay area… Actually the world. The HQ happens to be in Mountain View, and that is a good thing for us MV residents, BTW I don't work for Google. But let's be fair, Intuit, Symantic and now Samsung, plus others are key tenants in Mountain View. Google does not have every development or building, it just may seem that way because of the history of the old Sun and SGI campuses and other historical key tenants in the North Bayshore area. I am not sure what you are not buying, but It is exciting to see what was a dump and a dying downtown become a vibrant business center and an exciting destination due to the employee base we have here in Mountain View.

3 people like this
Posted by Lara
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Does Intuit currently have any shuttles from San Francisco to Mountain View??

3 people like this
Posted by Skirnir Hamilton
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Isn't there somewhere else Google could park all of its buses? I parked near Shoreline Amphitheater the other day to eat my lunch and was shocked at how many buses were parked there. Some running, some not. That is a lot of buses. I wonder how many are parked there on a regular basis? Do people tend to avoid the area due to all the buses rather than enjoy the natural area nearby?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of St. Francis Acres

on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:07 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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