Google, ferry agency to meet about future of tech company’s programs

Ferry agency officials are scheduled to meet with Google Thursday in order to figure out if the tech company plans to continue either of its ferry programs, which on a trial basis carried workers to the Peninsula from the East Bay and San Francisco.

A five-day pilot program arranged with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority ran last week, offering ferry rides from Harbor Bay in Alameda to Redwood City for Google employees who work in Mountain View, according to the authority, which runs the San Francisco Bay Ferry. There also was a 30-day pilot program that started Jan. 6 with rides between San Francisco and Redwood City for Google employees.

WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells said at a board meeting last week that she would be meeting with Google officials today to hear about the ferry experience and find out if Google plans to continue with a ferry program in the future.

Under the trial programs, there were two departures from San Francisco each morning and two return trips, while from Alameda there was one morning departure and a return trip in the afternoon, she said.

She said it is not certain if the Google ferries will continue to run but that the authority is “very interested in the opportunity.”

A Google spokeswoman said the ferry trials were an effort to get employees to work in new ways aside from private buses chartered by the company. Recently, Google and other tech companies have come under fire in San Francisco for providing private commuter buses for employees. Critics claim the buses disrupt public bus service and lead to higher housing costs in The City.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents and we’re trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,” according to a statement by the search engine company.

Google officials said they will evaluate the trial programs and decide if the ferries should become a permanent option.

Under an agreement with WETA for the pilot programs, Google paid WETA $275 per ferry landing and for renting private chartered boats to carry the passengers. The ferry service was arranged to not interfere with regular ferry routes and schedules for the public, Rannells said.

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