The Google-bus elitism


I've been waiting for the Chron's culture columnist Caille Millner to finally write about something interesting, and I got it April 27 when she stumbled onto the Google Buses. Or rather, the problem with the Google buses.

Thanks to the Chron's silly paywall, you can't read her column online, and since hardly anyone in San Franciso buys the Chronicle anymore, Millner's story won't get the attention it should. So allow me to repeat some of it here:

It was close to 9 p.m., and I was waiting at a bus stop on an island in the middle of Market Street. Next to me stood a tired-looking middle-aged woman who had clearly just left work. While we waited, up cruised the big white pod. It paused right in front of us. The door at the front slid open to discharge a few Googlers, and the luggage door on the lower right side of the bus also slid open to allow them access to their belongings.

One gentleman bounced down the bus steps and pushed his way in front of us to get his bicycle from beneath the bus. As he hurled it out onto the bus island, it hit the woman standing next to me. She glanced at me, mute and horrified, and in that moment I sensed that she didn't feel able to confront him. So I did.

"Excuse you," I said loudly.

>No response. He was busy fumbling with his messenger bag

"You hit her," I yelled.

He glanced up in no particular direction, as though suddenly troubled by the buzz of an insect. Circling his head around, he finally noticed where he was - the bus stop, the night, the fact that there were other people around him.

"Sorry?" he asked the air, in a tone of confusion. Then he climbed on his bicycle and pedaled away. He never looked at the woman he had hit.

There's a sense of entitlement about the rich, and the young rich are often the worst. And that's one reason why the logic of the Google bus -- it's better to have a single luxury vehicle haul all those people to work than have them all drive cars -- doesn't register with a lot of us. They're too good for Caltrain. They're too good for Muni. And they're too damn good to bother to notice that they've hit an old lady.



of the 2010's. Not to worry, though, their stock prices are up.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 11:52 am

Not Apple's stock price.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

Are you really going to argue that it's not better for people to live nearer where they work?

Posted by Hortencia on May. 01, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

Pay no attention to the lack of rapid, regional reliable transit behind the curtain. The Real Estate Developers and their Attorneys, Consultants, Architects and Lobbyists HAVE SPOKEN.

Posted by marcos on May. 01, 2013 @ 1:46 pm


Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

The buses are going nowhere other than back and forth from corporate HQ to a neighborhood near you.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

Use to live on McAllister St, rode the MUNI every day into downtown. This was in the 80's and seen some stuff that has to do with pushing and shoving. I have seen all sorts of people get on and off the bus.

Why blame rich tech people, it seems funny. Maybe the guy wasn't pay attention and was tired also. I have seen people knocked while people rushing on the the bus, have seen people board the bus without letting people get off the bus.

Enough with blaming the rich people, lots of people are rude and careless.

Posted by Garrett on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

Yes, but if what if you're rude, careless and on the take? Tell the Welfare King to pay for his own damn yacht race! You can sign the petition here:

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Was this rude person a self-entitled rich person? There is no evidence of that. We do know for a fact that he rides a bike....So perhaps he is merely another self-entitled bike rider...

Posted by Richmondman on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

This is from today's SFGATE.

A 74-year-old man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a traffic collision in a Bayview neighborhood parking lot turned violent, San Francisco police said Tuesday.
A man in his mid-20s driving a black, two-door sedan bumped the man's car in a parking lot near Third Street and Wallace Avenue at 4 p.m. Monday, said Sgt. Dennis Toomer, a police spokesman.
When the older man got out of his car, the younger man punched him in the face, Toomer said. The older man fell to the ground and suffered a life-threatening head injury. His name has not been released.
The younger man fled the scene. Police described him as black, 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, with long, dreadlocked hair. He was wearing a gray knit hat, black sunglasses, a black shirt and blue jeans, Toomer said.
Will Kane is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @WillKane

We would not (or I hope we would not) read this and think, "young people who drive are too entitled." The topic of Google buses using public bus stops is one worth exploring, not because of one rude interaction.

Posted by New Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

That is a great example.

If one person from the Google bus commits a rude act it is an example that Tim uses to show us that an entire class of people is flawed.

The next day a young Black male commits an act of violence against a much older person. So what conclusion should we draw about the entire class of young Black males?

I think that most people realize that it is okay to just laugh at Tim Redmond, preaching from his indignant but harmless perch at the SFBG. But his message of bigotry is still dangerous and ugly, even if the messenger has no influence.

Posted by Troll on May. 01, 2013 @ 9:23 am

Caltrain is full, especially of bicyclists. Get over it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

Stereotyping Jews led to the Holocaust.

Stereotyping communists led to McCarthyism.

Stereotyping successful IT workers will lead to . . .what, you hope?

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 12:30 am

You've got to be kidding.

No. I suppose this is just par for the course of the sort of glib and dimwitted rhetoric which forum readers here are subjected to on a regular basis.

This is matlocky.

The illogical mention slavery, the Jewish holocaust, and McCarthyism doesn't have to make sense because they are there to convey and substantiate the implicit lie that the commenter holds Enlightenment values at heart. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This commenter applauds the wholesale dislocation of long-time San Franciscans by an influx tech workers just the same way "good Nazis" embraced the depopulation of the Warsaw ghetto.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:59 am

There were a lot of objections to slavery when the Europeans started trading slaves (Africa was trading salves long before Europeans arrived) and one of the main arguments used was that in fact blacks were a different species.

So slavery was framed as domesticating a wild animal rather than enslaving a fellow human being.

Either way, stereotyping is rarely helpful.

Posted by anon on May. 01, 2013 @ 8:19 am


No. I can't think of anything on par with that.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 01, 2013 @ 8:52 am

decide to gainsay him without substantiation anyway?


Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 8:56 am

decide to gainsay him without substantiation anyway?


Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 8:56 am
Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 9:01 am

Fuckface views those who live in San Francisco yet cannot amass sufficient economic critical mass to forestall speculative evictions as being a species worthy of extirpation. It makes perfect sense.

Posted by marcos on May. 01, 2013 @ 9:08 am

Let me direct you to MUNI, the gathering place for poor entitled people.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

ever heard some trashy asshole blare their phone or mp3 player on MUNI.

Posted by Matlock on May. 01, 2013 @ 3:47 pm
Posted by Matlock on May. 01, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

I think your having culture clash because programers are much more likely to be introverts who do not understand the social graces too well.

And many times a programer is thinking of his work even when doing other things. So their actions are almost scripted so they are not paying attention to things.

Posted by toyotabedzrock on May. 01, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

America is a very ugly cruel place. It is not going to end well. One day these rich tech people will be fighting for their lives; in a blood bath civil war that will destroy this disgusting immoral country. When they loose everything and are reduced to poverty and destitution and don't have homes to live in anymore; then they can reflect back on their lives and seek redemption.

Posted by Justin on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

I've been hearing that tune for some time now.

Posted by Matlock on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

Perhaps your vision of Armagedon will occur, but I suspect things will continue to be uglier in the rest of the world than in America.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 02, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

Since moving to the area I have noticed that many people in S.F view young techies to be rich snobs. The problem is not that their rich, because lets face it a majority of them are not. Its the nerdy introverts without an ounce of emotional intelligence. In a way many programmers and engineers are artists, and they behave as such. Lets face it , f that guy was a real alpha "richie" he would have said excuse me and kissed you on the cheek. Meanwhile he just spent his day throwing you under the proverbial bus by squandering your 401k.
We need to make sure Google employees get to work as fast as possible. I really want to see the machines become aware in my lifetime.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

I cannot draw any grand conclusions from your anecdote, except perhaps that, yes, there are some rude and self-absorbed people in the world.

I ride MUNI every day, both buses and the train, (and BART, too) and I have been stepped on, kicked, bumped, subjected to cursing and screaming and nasty comments, had to put up with folks yelling loudly on their cell phones oblivious to everyone else around them, etc. I could post a story about any one of these examples of obnoxious behavior and then conclude "there seems to be a total lack of respect and good manners among the middle-class and the poor!" My post would show the same lack of logic and depth that this column does.

What happened is you simply met some jerk on the sidewalk, who frankly, you have no idea whether he was "rich" or not (and my guess is probably not or he would be driving a fancy car, not taking the Google bus and biking), and then you decided to post the same tired class-warfare bullshit that one columnist or another in the SFBG has been tossing out since the 1960's.

We get it, you are pissed off that some companies provide their employees with a private bus, and some of these employees actually choose to ride it rather than dealing with the congestion and grime on MUNI , and this offends your fake socialist ideals. Never mind the fact that if the Google employees live in SF , then they are paying taxes and fees, including property taxes, sales taxes and parking fees which all go to MUNI to fund its operations. (Of course, with all your indignation you also don't seem to find any inconsistency between your purported beliefs and the fact that you personally live a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle compared to the majority of people in the U.S. and the rest of the world).

I thought the article was actually going to say something interesting about the Google bus, but I guess I gave Mr. Redmond too much credit.

Posted by Chris on May. 07, 2013 @ 10:49 am

The anecdote appeared in the right-wing Chronicle. No doubt the writer has been reprimanded.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 07, 2013 @ 11:14 am

We live in a angry self centered world, rude people on the highways, on transit, heck you even have them on planes. You can find them in the parks, Macy's, at the coffee shop, you have rude panhandles, you have rude rich people, rude kids, rude old people, rude women, rude rednecks

Being rude is a sign of no class, but maybe they guy with the bike was tired, maybe people don't pay attention. We live in a rush rush rush world, I work in Napa, where people on holiday act like they are still in NYC. Rush rude, city rude same thing.

Maybe we need to slow down, enjoy the area and also show some manners, being out in front is not so important.

Posted by Garrett on May. 07, 2013 @ 11:04 am

≈ Often you can find a _Chron_ writer on Twitter, and they have magical URLs with credentials to get past the paywall. Ms. Millner's column can be reached here:

I had presumed that the bike angle on the GBus incident was just part of the house style at the _Chron_, but she doesn't come across as a hater at all. Her focus is on the private use of public amenities, which is the right emphasis. (Incidentally, since many of these buses are too long to stop and stand anywhere but in bus stops and bike lanes, transit riders and bicyclists are both being encroached on.)

Posted by Jym Dyer on May. 08, 2013 @ 7:25 am

Gee, I thought that was the whole point of them, i.e. that streets, parks etc. were designed for people to use them!

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2013 @ 9:59 am

Rudeness is rather common in SF regardless of background. Noisy cars driving down the street blasting music, or people standing at bus stops doing the same thing. Fools shouting at the buses passing by advocating racial warfare (yes, that really happens), or people crowding onto the bus on a Friday or Saturday night and continuing the party there, raising the noise levels to the point where even the drivers go back and shout at them.

Homeless chasing people down, or cussing them out for not giving a bit of change, Chinese shops assuming that because you’re non-Chinese, you don’t speak the language and they can rip you off and discuss it with their managers in the process in Cantonese, black men on the 14 getting pissed off at noisy old men and stating in no uncertain terms that yes, they would “put a cap in your ass if I wasn’t holding my baby”, a small platoon of police officers harassing a homeless couple near the beach at night, or another man outside of a club in the Tenderloin.

San Franciscans are on average pretty damn rude. It’s pervasive and not limited to any particular group. There’s actually a kind of positive feedback loop going on, the ruder people are in general, the ruder others are prone to be. Welcome to the City.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 1:19 am
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Posted by Demaemiainmtipt on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Okay, some guy who works for Google was an inconsiderate jerk. That does not really affect whether or not it makes sense for Google to buy some buses to take people to their work instead of having them drive. It's Google's bus. The woman he hit could press charges if she wanted to (although I gather from the story that she did not). It doesn't mean Google can't buy buses to take people to work if it wants to.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Watch this video on google buses in SF/MIssion

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 11:52 pm