A follow-on about the San Francisco debacles.
When I was in high school, my mother and others spoke about towns whose school systems were “hollowed out”. Towns like Andover, Massachusetts, the site of Philips Academy, that attracted rich parents who wanted to send their children to a private school but therefore had no investment in the public school system. With this erosion of public will, education funding would falter, reducing the quality of public education. In some towns, like where I went to high school, the only thing preventing this “hollowing out” was the impressive quality of the school that made it a viable alternative to private institutions.
To me, this is a perfect analogy to the San Francisco public transit issue. If Google will aid and abet “hollowing out” the public transit system by offering its own options, it is ensuring that this downward spiral for funding will continue. While plenty of other public transit systems are in the continuous balancing act of funding levels, reliability and employment benefits, in most cities the corporate citizens will see the system’s necessity instead of trying to work around it. In Boston, the struggling student and the well-off tech worker both must concede that the system both provides a cheap transportation option and helps alleviate traffic, whether or not they take the bus or subway. This also explains why Boston is putting in more cycling infrastructure, another cheap public good that reduces traffic and increases productivity in a less wasteful way than more parking would.
Ultimately, if this systemic view were more present in San Francisco’s politicians and large corporate citizens, there’d be better transit and better quality of life for those not so blessed to work at Google. Instead, we have economic segregation, and a bunch of engineers who are too insular to understand exactly what they’re fucking up.