Mike Migurski, in his post about The City From The Valley project (which you should read in full):
What of the private perks offered by valley companies, of which private transport is just one? I think Google, Facebook, Apple and others have all done their own math and determined that it’s advantageous to move, feed, clothe, and generally coddle your workforce. This math scales a lot more than is obvious, and as a country we should be looking at things like the Affordable Care Act in a more favorable light, perhaps asking companies who need to move employees up and down the peninsula to pay more into Caltrain instead of running their own fleets.
I remember a discussion with two (also ex-pat, but longer established in SF) friends last year, where I made a similar point about public transport. If Google, Apple, Yahoo and so on are really approaching a ridership about one third that of Caltrain itself, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually expand that service?
Their rebuttal did make some sense. The last-mile is a problem, at both ends- the station in SF is hardly located centrally, and many campuses are far from the train line. It’s also a lot easier to put coaches on the road than trains on a track. That was the case in London when Ken Livingstone first became Mayor in 2000; he expanded bus coverage rapidly (with somewhat more day routes, and definitely an expansion of night and 24 hour buses) because pushing investment to the Tube has a very long lead time. (The Victoria line upgrade programme still has a small step next year, after starting in about 2007, for example.)
Nonetheless, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish, and if Google had started pushing money in five years ago, perhaps the Caltrain modernisation, which will increase capacity and speed through electrification, would be finished somewhat sooner than in 2019. After all, the environmental impact reports date back to 2004.
One other thought occurs to me. If these large multinational companies can avoid paying tax on their non-US earnings, at least their headquarters should be available for funding local amenities.
If American citizens are happy letting some companies look after their employees while others sink, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the actions of these new giants. If they’re not, though, perhaps there’s something to be said for raising the idea that perhaps they should be contributing more to their communities, if not their country.