Mountain View Voice

News - January 24, 2014

Google set to expand ferry to East Bay

Alameda to Port of Redwood City is next trial route

by Daniel DeBolt

Google has been testing a ferry boat service as it looks for ways to bring a growing number of its employees to Mountain View without worsening traffic and air pollution.

The company is in the midst of a 30-day test run of a ferry from San Francisco to Redwood City, where a shuttle picks up employees for the last stretch of the commute. A Google employee familiar with the program told the Voice that it has been well received, and that a similar 30-day test of a ferry from Alameda would begin near the end of the year for Google employees living in Oakland and the East Bay. If all goes well, Google may be buying its own ferry soon to continue the service.

"It is more reliable, so you know, generally, it will get you home in an hour and a half," said one Mountain View Google employee, who had taken the ferry instead of a shuttle from San Francisco. "It's generally not faster, by any means."

Google had 500 employees interested in using the ferry, from which 100 were selected to be part of the 30-day trial of the service. It would be more convenient if it came all the way to Mountain View.

"I'm sure our transportation group would love to get the ferry as close as possible to (the) Google campus," said the employee, who declined to be named. "If you are still subject to traffic on (Highway) 101, obviously it's not going to be as convenient."

A Google ferry to Mountain View may be an easier task if Google is successful in its bid to operate Moffett Federal Airfield. The company may want to install a ferry dock near the northern end of the runways.

It would not be a first for such a proposal. In 2002, the Bay Area Water Transit Authority rejected a plan to extend ferry service to Mountain View, citing a lack of demand.

"It didn't work because it's federal property and the ferry terminal would have been too far from other sources of employment," said Lenny Siegel, a member of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board.

To Siegel, Google's ferry effort only makes sense as a test for eventually bringing it all the way to Mountain View. With Google building a 1.1 million-square-foot campus at Moffett, a mile away, and its headquarters just across a proposed Stevens Creek bridge, "it wouldn't be hard to get people to those buildings with their shuttle buses."

According to a 1990 Navy environmental study, a military fuel barge made monthly deliveries to Moffett as recently as the 1990s, though dredging of that portion of the bay was required every 10 years.

"There is a dock for floating fuel into Moffett in Guadalupe slough," Siegel said, noting that another portion of the Bay at the north end of the Moffett runways might be more practical for a ferry, although a levee blocks it. "I don't know how much dredging would be required or what the environmental impacts would be, but it's not entirely far-fetched to do it."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@v-voice.com

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