The buses that ferry Google's San Francisco-based workers almost 40 miles to headquarters in suburban Mountain View, Calif. are now part of a massive network of private employee shuttles in Silicon Valley.
They had very modest beginnings, though, according to Cari Spivack, who started the program as a side project in 2004 when she worked at Google.
The first bus route made just two stops: Glen Park BART, a centrally located public-transit stop, and a park-and-ride stop at Candlestick Park, the city's baseball stadium. From there, the bus went straight down Highway 101 to Google headquarters, Spivack told us.
In 2004, the bus system carried 155 passengers a day. By 2005, that had doubled to 300. As of last year, a third of Google's headquarter employees rode the shuttle buses—nearly 3,500 passengers a day.
"I'm very proud of the shuttle," Spivack told us. "I'm proud of the industry for seeing the potential for improving their employees' quality of life and for recognizing their responsibility in minimizing their environmental footprint. It's amazing to know that one person's small initiative at a single company can have such a ripple effect on so many people, the environment and an entire industry (not to mention the unexpected effect on SF real estate). I couldn't be prouder."
Spivack left Google in 2006 to pursue a career in law. But if she worked there today, she notes, she could walk one block from her house in San Francisco to a shuttle stop.
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