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Google Takes to the Sea, Tests Ferry Shuttle for Workers

Search giant navigates new waters to ease tensions over buses.

Shutterstock / RetroClipArt

Google has hired a privately operated catamaran to transport employees from San Francisco to Redwood City and back, in an effort to ease growing resentments over tech shuttles in the region.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we’re trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,” the Mountain View search giant said in a statement provided to Re/code.

The company kicked off a pilot program this week, ferrying as many as 150 employees aboard the Triumphant twice each workday morning and afternoon, as first reported by KPIX 5, the local CBS affiliate.

Bay Area protestors have taken to blocking Google buses and other corporate shuttles in recent weeks, in demonstrations against rising housing costs and evictions that some blame on well-to-do techies and their employers. Critics have also complained that the shuttles use public transit stops for free, and delay buses operated by public transit agencies.

The city of San Francisco, Google and other tech businesses took an earlier step to address those concerns on Monday, announcing a tentative agreement to require permits and fees that could add up to about $100,000 per company over an 18-month pilot period.

The ferry service could also serve as a workplace perk for Googlers that’s at least as handy as high-tech nap pods. After all, why inch along jammed Silicon Valley highways when there’s a wide-open body of water at your disposal?

To be sure, the Triumphant isn’t a self-driving vessel, and won’t feature a 223-foot-tall wingsail, a la Larry Ellison’s victorious America’s Cup yacht. But one step at a time.

And here’s the Triumphant looking triumphant!:

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