Noe Valley Voice September 2007

Neighbors Still Grappling with Google

By Corrie M. Anders

In an attempt to appease frustrated Jersey Street residents, Google Inc. has shifted some of its employee shuttle buses to other streets in Noe Valley. But by doing so, did the search-engine firm aggravate more local residents?

"We've been hearing from people on 26th and Clipper, and they're concerned," says Jacqui Sawers, a Jersey Street resident who has been leading the effort to get Google to modify the frequency and size of its shuttle bus service. "We don't agree with spreading the load over to those streets [because] we think it will open a can of worms."

A new one, that is. The first can of worms was opened last spring, when Jersey Street residents complained the buses were too big, too noisy, and potentially dangerous to pedestrians (see "Google Buses Rankle Jersey Street Residents," July/August 2007 Voice). At least 15 times daily on weekdays, the buses stop at 24th and Castro streets to pick up Noe Valley residents for the 40-mile commute to Google's Mountain View headquarters and back. But Google employees are grateful for the perk, which keeps dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cars off the road.

Neighborhood residents met with Google representatives to try to resolve their differences on July 10 and Aug. 15 at City Hall. The meetings were also attended by aides from Supervisor Bevan Dufty's office, as well as Bauer's Worldwide Intelligent Transportation, which operates the shuttle buses for the high-tech firm.

One neighborhood participant suggested moving the shuttle stop to somewhere along the Church Street streetcar corridor. Google said no thanks because workers surveyed said it would be inconvenient and more stressful, Sawers says.

Still, the meetings produced some movement. The city's Department of Public Works is researching whether Bauer's 45-foot-long buses violate the city code's 40-foot limit for buses and trucks. For its part, Bauer is exploring the feasibility of alternate routes that would reduce shuttle bus traffic on Jersey Street.

Another meeting is scheduled for September.