Just as Google completed its pilot program involving the ferrying of its employees on a catamaran from San Francisco to its Mountain View offices, another Silicon Valley giant, namely Facebook, has started an almost identical service for its own workers.
Starting last week, the social networking giant has been using a 30-person, 53-foot catamaran to take workers from near Oakland Bay Bridge south to Redwood City Port, close to where its Menlo Park complex is situated.
The free trial service will initially run for 90 days, with one round trip per day on Tuesdays and Fridays, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week. During the ride, the Facebook employees have access to Wi-Fi as well as free coffee and snacks.
Google’s pilot program involved four trips daily on an 83-foot hydrofoil-assisted catamaran that included an outdoor bar and a VIP lounge featuring “Beurteaux lounge seating.” A spokesperson for the Web giant said the company was looking at alternative ways to get its employees to work in order to ease pressure on the road network in an effort to avoid inconveniencing San Francisco residents.
The move to water-based transport is apparently in response to recent protests by some San Francisco residents involving the obstruction of private employee buses belonging to Silicon Valley-based companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook.
The protestors blame the moneyed tech workers for rising property prices and living costs, which they claim is affecting living standards for long-time residents of the city. They were also annoyed that the private buses were using public bus stops to pick up and drop off workers, an issue which forced the tech companies to hammer out a deal with the local transportation agency to allow them to use the stops.
If Facebook’s water taxi proves a hit with its workers, it could set sail on a permanent basis following the trial period.