The Google Bus protests just got a whole lot more creative. Activists dressed in circus acrobat-style bodysuits borrowing heavily from the search giant's own colour palette on Tuesday danced and cavorted in front of a Google shuttle in San Francisco's Mission District, SFGate reported.
Protesters calling themselves the "GMuni Dancers" blocked the bus at a Mission Street stop at around 9 a.m. Pacific, while "doing acrobatics and bouncing exercise balls" to add some levity to anti-Google Bus activity that in the past has mainly featured traditional picketing and sign-wielding activities.
One protester even dressed up as a kind of bizarre, Google-branded surveillance camera on stilts, as documented in SFGate's photo gallery of the protest.
Google and other tech companies have come under fire in recent months for the shuttle programmes they operate to transport employees from San Francisco and other areas to their campuses in Silicon Valley. Those private shuttles use public bus stops to pick up passengers, a practice local activists argue is free-riding by big tech firms on publicly owned property.
One solution to the issue is a pilot program enacted by San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to charge companies operating private shuttle buses a fee to use the city's Muni bus stops. But some parties have appealed that programme based on environmental concerns and San Francisco's Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote on cancelling the pilot programme later on Tuesday—the main reason the colourful Google Bus protestors took to the streets earlier to broadcast their opposition to any concessions made to corporate shuttle bus programmes.
In addition to grassroots protestors, the director of the Housing Rights Committee and the SEIU Local 1021 have backed the appeal of the current MTA pilot programme, SFGate reported.
"The first bus protest led to a public conversation that needed to be had," the site quoted protest organiser Amanda Ream as saying. "Muni's in crisis, in debt. We want to see an effort to protect economic diversity in San Francisco, and that means a well-funded Muni."
During the morning Google Bus blockade, protesters "handed out fake bus passes for 'GMuni' and encouraged passers-by to use them to board the Google Bus" while at least one protestor tried to board the shuttle but was stopped by its driver, SFGate reported.
San Francisco police ended the protest in about 15 minutes, according to the site.
Meanwhile, Google and Facebook have been experimenting with ferry services to move their workers around instead of free-riding on public transit resources.
Google also recently announced that it is donating $6.8 million (£4.1 million) to San Francisco's Free Muni for Youth Pilot Program, which provides low- and moderate-income students in San Francisco free access to public transportation run by the MTA, with a Google rep even stating that "San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops."