Google Bus Protests Get Colorful Ahead Of Hearing On City Shuttle Program

Oh San Francisco.

Just a month after Google agreed to give $6.8 million to support free rides for low-income youth on the city’s public transit system, activists are out again in force. They staged a protest ahead of a city vote on whether a pilot program to manage tech commuter shuttles is exempt from environmental review.

Activists blocked a bus at 24th and Valencia, this time with bouncy balls and colorful suits. They’re asking the city to ban private shuttles in public bus zones (without suggesting an alternative place for them to go and pick-up workers), stop fare hikes and offer free public transit for all city residents and stop all no-fault evictions in the city.

San Francisco’s city supervisors are voting this afternoon on whether a new plan for tech commuter shuttles should be exempt from environmental review. A few activist groups have threatened to file suit against the bus program under the California Environmental Quality Act, even though they take cars off the road.

Here’s what the activists, from Heart of the City, are demanding:

San Francisco, CA

April Fools! Boo!!! Google and other tech giants only care about their bottom line, and their free market free for all comes with a heavy price.

Since 2007 private shuttles, a.k.a. “Google buses”, have been using our tax payer-funded public bus stops illegally thousands of times a day. SFMTA has made backroom hand-shake deals with these wealthy corporations to turn a blind eye, while ticketing the public $271 if they stop in a MUNI zone. This is just one example of the two-tier system that exists in SF, the city with the fastest growing inequality gap in the country. The second tech boom has also brought us: no fault evictions up 83%, rents up 20% where “Google buses” stop, and the displacement of elders, long-time residents, and families in favor of whiter, richer newcomers.

At 3pm today at City Hall, SFMTA will decide if these corporations can continue to use public bus zones for a mere $1 per stop. Meanwhile, underfunded MUNI is considering a fare hike. Why fund MUNI on the backs of poor and working class people while rich corporations use public infrastructure for pennies? Join us in saying: HELL NO!

The Googlopoly Tries to Save Face

To deflect mounting public pressure, Google agreed to give $6.8 million over two years to fund free MUNI passes for youth. While we welcome their money, in 2013 alone Google should have paid $10.6 million in parking fines. They also owe the federal government over $11.7 billion in unpaid taxes on income stashed in overseas tax havens. They owe their users countless billions for selling off theirprivate data for profit and making products that “innovate” the surveillance state. Google is not alone in exploiting common land, resources and data for private gain. They’re just one of the worst examples. With more revenue than half the state of California, a lower tax rate than most of us, and executives who make millions per minute, it is time to shift our priorities to value people over profit and public over private.

Let’s take back the city!

We demand:
-No private shuttles in public bus zones
-No fare hikes and a free MUNI for all
-Tech companies pay for their impact on housing and public infrastructure; Fund affordable housing initiatives, eviction defense, public transit
improvements, and legislation to repeal the Ellis Act & Costa Hawkins!
-A moratorium on all no-fault evictions.
-Preservation of rent-controlled housing.
-Investment in all people, not just tech.