When you live and work in San Francisco, you deal with commuting challenges on a daily basis. Add to that the impact of the growing tech industry, and the out-of-control cost of living associated with the disappearance of the middle class, and life can be pretty miserable. Even more insulting to a great many residents of S.F. are the private buses that ferry employees from the city to the campuses of Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and others. Those cushy vehicles encroach on the public transportation system, annoying riders because many of the private buses pick up passengers at public bus stops.
Residents Complain Two-Tier System is Unfair
While tech employees enjoy their rides in late-model vehicles, typical city-dwellers are stuck with the over 100 year old MUNI system of aging buses, trains and those trolleys we all remember from the old Rice-A-Roni commercials, to get around the city. According to California State statistics, about one-quarter of S.F.’s population lives at or below the poverty line, and must rely on public transit. A recent protest brought the problem to the forefront, and further exacerbated tensions between the tech “haves” and the urban “have-nots” when it was revealed that a Google “employee” who was defending the private buses, was actually a well-known protester who is associated with the “Occupy” movement.
While many argue that the private tech buses are doing everyone a favor by keeping cars off the road and helping ease the burdens placed on the outdated infrastructure, the masses who do not earn tech dollars insist that a two-tier system exists where it should not. Many are being forced out of the city because they can no longer afford to live there, while employees of the tech giants get to have the best of both worlds: life in the city, and comfortable transportation to their tech jobs at the expense of everyone else.
The tech sector is known to pay its employees well, and many people would love to secure a job at Google, Apple, or one of the many companies that call the San Francisco-area home. Granted, not everyone will be qualified to work in the tech sector, but those who have the motivation to learn might want to consider online training as a way to gain the qualifications the tech giants look for. While that is no solution to the transportation problem (there is actually one in the works), online education could provide an opportunity for a better life.
Roll With the Changes
The “transportation segregation” taking place in S.F., as one New York Times reporter referred to it, might be leading to the gentrification of one of America’s most colorful and diverse cities, but that doesn’t mean it should stop people from striving to improve themselves. Big cities have a way of making themselves over every so often, and that can be inspiring to those of us who might be in need of a little freshening up ourselves.