No big surprise here, but the drivers piloting the army of tech-company shuttles ferrying people between San Francisco and Silicon Valley are largely underpaid and overworked, as the Chronicle reports. And while the employees riding their shuttles may be pulling in cushy salaries and reveling in the convenience of this almost door-to-door service, it comes at the expense of drivers who sit around in the case of Google in Mountain View all afternoon, unpaid, during what are called "split shifts."
The bulk of activity for the drivers comes in the early morning and in the evenings, and the company that Google contracts with makes the drivers take the afternoons off while they sit in Google parking lots waiting for their evening runs to begin.
The Chron details the schedule via one recently fired driver (he tried to call in sick one day for lack of sleep, which is legal under state law, and he got canned), Brandon Barlow, who worked for the company WeDriveU, a contractor with Google. He made $18.75 an hour, but his day started at 5:15 a.m. when he boarded BART in West Oakland to get to a shuttle that would bring him to the bus depot at Oyster Point. From there he would start his pickups in the Marina at 7:40 a.m., join the traffic on 101 South, and make just that single morning run before having to sit out five hours or so in Mountain View until his first northbound trip at 3:15, without pay. He would then do two roundtrips and not get home until 9 p.m.
Another current driver who did not want to be identified said her two daily shifts are from 7 to 11 a.m. and 3:30 to 11 p.m., and she compared the job to "jail" and said "I’m killing myself for them for $19.25 an hour." However she's glad for the wage because she has four kids to support.
Drivers also deal with the issue of angry cyclists who go to war with the shuttles every day (one told SFGate in August he thinks cyclists are "all sort of trying to, in my mind, kind of sabotage me.") And then there are the (probably rightly) incensed pedestrians like that awesome lady in Pac Heights. Not to mention all those pesky hills.
There was already a class-action lawsuit against WeDriveU in 2012 that was just settled in August which awarded 89 drivers a combined total of $125,000 in back wages over the split-shift issue, and the lack of pay for times spent having buses inspected. After legal fees that left each driver with an average $730 settlement.
In the good news column, drivers for Google are allowed to use the Google gym during their five unpaid hours down there. But, clearly, they're too pooped to be doing squats.