Are you tired of fighting the freeway traffic to and from Silicon Valley? Or squeezing into a train? Thousands of valley workers travel instead on private luxury buses complete with wifi. In most cases, you can’t ride one of these shuttles unless you work for the right company. But there may be loop holes.
According Danielle Magee of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, some companies will cheerfully let you ride — for free.
I also hopped a Genebus at Glen Park BART and rode to company headquarters in South San Francisco. Again, nobody asked for ID; in fact, Genentech spokesperson Nadine O’Campo said the company is happy to let others who work in the area hitch a ride on the cush coaches.
That brings us to the next problem: How do you find the shuttle that’s going your way? Click on this new map by Stamen, a San Francisco design firm:
This map is meant to give you a visual understanding of the way Silicon Valley buses are flowing through San Francisco, not to tell you where to catch one. (It was created for the Zero1 exhibit on the intersection of art and technology, going on until at 439 S. First Street, San Jose until Dec. 8.) But there are more maps on the Stamen site that display the shuttle stops in more precision.
You can also get some more details from a June, 2011 City of San Francisco report, which has its own maps in the appendices.
The buses have been controversial, the report says, because they sometimes stop illegally at public bus stops, get in the way of public buses and may reduce ridership on public transit.
On the other hand, they may reduce the number of cars on the roads, allowing you to make that trip to and from the valley more easily — even if you never get on a shuttle.