Google Transit: Bread and Circuses Morph to Search and Free Rides
February 28, 2014
I don’t have a dog in this fight or a commute to make. I bailed on San Francisco after spending the night in a traffic jam. I did not leave my heart in San Francisco. The earthquake in 1989 validated the wisdom of a retreat to rural Kentucky. Not perfect, but free from some of San Francisco’s idiosyncrasies.
A few days ago, my son and I spoke about his recent business trip to the city by the Bay. I asked him if he saw bus protestors. He told me, “Nope. Lots of talk about Google’s ferries and buses, though.” After our chat, I saw a news item about some folks making their way to Atherton to protest something.
Too bad he missed the action. I was hoping he would have an eye witness account of a bus action or maybe a snap of the protestors milling around the sylvan Atherton.
I did get a chuckle out of “Google Donates $6.8 Million to Fund Free Transit Rides for San Francisco Youth.” I assume the story is chock full of facts. The question I had was, “What’s a youth?” The answer is people aged five to 17. Well, that will help with the private transportation issue, won’t it?
Here’s the quote I noted:
For months, activists have been calling on tech companies to make a larger contribution to the communities that help them attract and retain top workers. Google’s move today signals that pressure from the community has gotten the company’s attention. “San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don’t pay more to use city bus stops,” Google said in a statement to The Verge. “So we’ll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students for the next two years.”
Ah, two years.
What tickled my funny bone is the link my mind forged between Roman emperors sponsoring games and providing food to citizens. The issue may be the type of disparity that exists between those who have lots of money and those who don’t have sufficient funds.
What worked for Roman emperors may work in San Francisco. Google assumes that this funding is a step forward. I will watch for the announcement of the Google Games. Will math and physics majors compete in bold physical contests? Will participants come with other skills to showcase. Maybe showcase skills in finding relevant information to a user’s query in Google’s “free” Web search system? Why not refurb the Cow Palace and get the show on the road. Free rides for youth between five and 17 too. Can someone snag a ride on the Google barge to Stockton?
Stephen E Arnold, February 28, 2014