YP, the totally hip, with-it tech company formerly known as the Yellow Pages, has launched Los Angeles's first Google Bus, aka a private luxury bus aimed at employees. (*We previously wrote it was just for employees; a rep for RidePal clarifies in an email that "While YP is the [awesome] 'anchor' partner for our newly launched route, we are actively recruiting other companies and independent commuters to join in and fill up the buses!" Fares about $10.) The LA Times reports it's hired San Francisco's RidePal to shuttle about 25 workers a day from the Westside (with stops in Venice, Mar Vista, and West LA) to the company's offices in Glendale, because the competition for LA tech workers has gotten "more fierce" in the past couple years (the time in which the city has been explicitly courting tech companies): "we had to do something to cast a wider net for talent, especially people from the Santa Monica patch of start-ups," says YP's CTO.
That's nice for people who work or want to work at YP, but the Google Bus system has been thoroughly criticized in San Francisco for illegally using public infrastructure (shuttles now have to be permitted and pay a fee) and for encouraging gentrification with a system that makes it easy for rich tech employees to live in San Francisco but work in suburban Silicon Valley.
YP is using public park-and-ride areas for pick-up and drop-off, and Westside gentrification isn't anywhere near San Francisco levels (YET), and if they're getting a bunch of cars off the road, that's awesome, but is a separate system for techies really something we want? Los Angeles has a public bus system that will take commuters from the Westside to Glendale; obviously, that's not good enough for tech workers (or for a lot of other upper-class workers), but is the solution to create a bus caste system? Doesn't LA woo these companies so they'll help improve the city as a whole, for everyone, not just for the people that are making them money? Yes, it does, but that's not how it ever goes: "RidePal is ironing out deals with several technology, entertainment and biotechnology firms in Los Angeles, spokesman Bob Martin said."
· L.A.'s tech scene gets first Google-like luxury bus [LAT]
· Google bus blocked in San Francisco gentrification protest [Reuters]