Starting Jan. 12, new shuttles with green and blue logos will become a common sight during commute hours in Mountain View, ferrying employees of major tech companies to and from the downtown train station.
Though the 20-person shuttles will be free and available for public use, the MVgo shuttle service is not to be confused with the electric shuttles donated by Google that will run a loop around the city, which is also launching in January. Those shuttles are aimed at residents. The MVgo shuttle is aimed at commuters.
"It's obvious from the route and schedule design of MVgo that it's very well thought out, coordinated with Caltrain arrivals and departures, and should be extremely productive in serving "last mile" Caltrain ridership needs," said Mountain View resident and transit planner Cliff Chambers, who works on shuttle system design, but did not work on this particular system.
Chambers also praised the logo design. "It's the kind of effort I was hoping for the MV community shuttle ... I'm quite excited about MVgo, not so much about the community shuttle."
The service will be a consolidation of five separate employer shuttle systems. "Through this consolidation, approximately 12,000 shuttle vehicle miles are saved per year," said Denise Pinkston, chair of the board operating the system.
The biggest employers and office developers in the city are paying for the service, including Google and LinkedIn, thanks to a requirement placed on new office development by the Mountain View City Council.
The MVgo shuttles will run weekdays during commute hours on three routes that originate at the downtown train station. There will be 24 trips to North Bayshore between 6:38 a.m.and 10:20 a..m. and 12 trips to the Whisman area. Typical wait times range from 15 to 33 minutes for morning shuttles.
Two routes serve Google, Intuit and LinkedIn's North Bayshore (dividing the area north of Highway 101 into east and west routes) and a third route makes a loop around offices on Whisman Road, Middlefield Road and the area just east of Ellis Street where a new Samsung campus has been under construction. The shuttle will not run on major holidays and on weekends.
Perhaps fitting for their high tech industry the shuttles serve, there will be geo-locating devices on board each shuttle so rides can track shuttle using their smart phones. The gasoline powered shuttles are also equipped with bike racks and wheelchair lifts.
High school senior Jamar Pagpaguitan won a contest held by Mountain View's Community School of Music and Arts to come up with a logo for the shuttles that saw over 100 submissions. "My inspiration came from my own love and effort to draw and knowing it would be shown all over Mountain View," he reportedly said of the effort.
The companies running the MVgo shuttle have formed the Mountain View Transit Management Association (MTMA), a requirement of office development in Mountain View to run shared shuttles and find other ways to manage traffic congestion.
"Private companies in Mountain View are effectively collaborating and working in partnership with the city and local transit agencies to fill gaps in the local transportation network and allow people to travel to work car-free," said MTMA chair Denise Pinkston in a statement. "MTMA represents the first and only partnership that includes Valley employers (Google, LinkedIn, Intuit, and Samsung Research America) and Valley landowners (Broadreach Capital Partners, Sares Regis, the Sobrato Organization, and TMG Partners) working together to solve challenging traffic problems that face us all."
A similar shuttle service nearly came about in 2001. It included a lunchtime shuttle service between downtown and North Bayshore to bolster business for downtown restaurants, but a lack of interest and funding meant putting the whole idea on the back-burner.
For more information on the two shuttle systems launching next month, visit mvgo.org and mountainview.gov/depts/pw/community_shuttle.asp