When large commuter buses started appearing on Shannon Road in early January, neighbors wondered what was going on. Turns out the buses are picking up Google employees in the morning and taking them to work at the company's headquarters in Mountain View.
Sounds like an eco-friendly thing to do, but parents whose children are going to school at the same time say it's unsafe.
Parent Pam Kee says a student bicycling to Fisher Middle School recently found himself blocked by the bus.
"The bus was stopped in the bike lane, so the kid pulled out into the street to avoid it," Kee said. "He couldn't go onto the sidewalk because all the Google employees were there. There was a car behind the bus; thank goodness it stopped and didn't try to go around it at the same time as the bicyclist."
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There are five morning bus runs between 7:20 and 10:25 a.m. A Google spokesman said that on average 70 people take one of the Shannon Road buses daily. "The reason we have the buses is to remove traffic from the roads and to be a green-friendly company," Google's Jordan Newman said. "The buses run on biodiesel fuel so they're especially clean."
Newman also said that company-wide conservation programs result in 2,000 fewer vehicles taking to Bay Area streets on a daily basis.
But Kee's complaint was prompted by the fact that the buses were stopping in a no-parking zone in front of the Presbyterian Church at 16575 Shannon Road. The Googlers park in the church parking lot and then line up on the sidewalk to wait for the buses. A 7:50 a.m. bus took off the other day at 7:52 a.m. when one last straggler ran in from the parking lot.
An 8:35 bus came down Cherry Blossom Lane, turned right onto Shannon, loaded up two dozen Googlers and was gone within a minute.
"All they have to do is pull into the [church's] parking lot," Kee said. "If there have to be buses, they should load and unload in the parking lot."
She went on to say, "I really dislike the fact that a bus stop magically appeared in a school zone."
Kee and other parents have been blogging about the issue and have talked to Blossom Hill Elementary principal Lisa Reynolds and the police department.
Traffic Sgt. Steve Walpole apparently solved the problem by contacting the church and asking if the bus could pull into the parking lot to pick up the Googlers. The church said that was OK with them and agreed to contact Google about the change.
Police department spokesman Sgt. Kerry Harris said the department will monitor the situation to make sure the buses are, in fact, pulling into the parking lot to make drop-offs and pick-ups.