Forget the Google Barge, it's all about the Facebook Ferry

Though San Francisco officials recently approved a formal shuttle bus pilot, Facebook is the latest tech firm to experiment with a ferry service for employees.

The social network is taking a page from Google's transportation book with a 90-day water taxi pilot programme that launched earlier this month.

A Facebook spokesman confirmed the pilot programme, which runs a 30-person catamaran between the ports of San Francisco and Redwood City twice a week. He declined to comment further, but added that employees are served coffee and snacks on the boat.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the 53-foot catamaran, named New El Dorado III, offers Wi-Fi during the commute, and docks at Pier 40 near AT&T Park in the city. Workers then board a chartered bus for the 10-minute ride to the Menlo Park campus.

The pilot program, which runs through the end of April, includes one free round-trip ride on Tuesdays and Fridays.

If all goes well, this could mean fewer commuters on chartered city buses, which has caused an uproar among local residents who are irked by gentrification and Google and Facebook using public bus stops for private pick ups and drop offs, the Chronicle said.

Amidst protests, the city's Municipal Transportation Agency voted last month to run an 18-month pilot shuttle service starting in July, which would charge tech companies $1 (59p) for each stop made by shuttle buses, CBS Sacramento reported.

Google also gave ferries a whirl, conducting 30-day ferry trials from San Francisco and Alameda that ended last week.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment on the success of the program, instead pointing to a Google statement released last month: "We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to [San Francisco] residents and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work."

Neither company revealed the costs of their experiments. Google may want to watch its bank balance though with the amount of money it's been throwing around its money, having just closed a $3.2 billion deal with Nest.