It’s time to give back for Google Inc. The beneficiaries of the technology giant’s latest philanthropic activity would be the working-class youth in San Francisco, California. The company has handed over $6.8 million in donation to the Free Muni for Youth Pilot Program, a year-old endeavor that provides free access to public transportation to low- and moderate-income students in the area.
The program is being run and managed by the Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). According to observers, the donation is so far the biggest amount turned over to the SFMTA from a private company. The government agency is estimated to spend about $3 million annually to fund the program, which is intended for young people aged 5 years old to 17 years old.
Making it up
There is a factor that pushed Google to donate to the city’s public transport sector. Analysts think that the recent donation could be Google’s way of softening its reputation in San Francisco. It can be recalled that the company has been drawing criticisms from numerous residents because of its use of public bus stops as venues where its own shuttles pick up its employees who are going to and from its nearby facilities.
In a statement, Google acknowledged that many city residents are frustrated on how the company does not pay to use public bus stops. Thus, it said that it would continue working with the city to make it up to the public. The donation would fund all MUNI passes for intended beneficiaries within two years.
It can be recalled that Google, along with other technology firms in the area, have been under fire for shuttling its workers in Wi-Fi enabled and luxury buses going to and from San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The initiative is being criticized because Google, Apple, and Facebook don’t pay fines for picking up their respective employees at various city bus stops without shouldering appropriate fees for using public bus stops. The scheme also draws fire for disrupting local public transportation.
Before the donation, Google rolled out a 30-day water taxi program, which transports its employees between the port facilities in San Francisco and Alameda. This way, the shuttle buses don’t have to use public bus stops. However, there is no word yet if the company would push through with the scheme after the end of the 30-day test.