Mass Transit

Amazon Launches Pilot Transit Service for Seattle Employees

The company is now offering to ferry workers (and their pets) to and from work for free.

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Amazon Entrance
Robert Scoble / Flickr

With the launch of its new Amazon Ride service, the e-commerce Giant is embarking on a private solution to the very public problem of traffic congestion in the city of Seattle.

Starting Monday, Amazon will operate a private bus service for Seattle-area employees—and apparently their dogs, too—ferrying them from Redmond, Issaquah, and Bellevue to the company's offices at South Lake Union Campus as well as its Doppler Tower corporate headquarters in Seattle proper.

Both full- and part-time employees will be able to reserve seats for free shuttles that will run six times each morning and evening. WiFi will be provided on the buses, and if riders experience an emergency or have to work late, Amazon Ride will offer a limited number of guaranteed rides home each year.

This will no doubt come as a welcome relief to the 20,000 or so employees who work at Amazon's Seattle locations, a little under 50 percent of whom currently drive to work.

America's Emerald City has long scored poorly on measures of drivability. An index of road congestion released in March found that Seattle was the 4th worst city in the United States for traffic, with congestion extending trip times by an average of 31 percent. Only New York, Los Angeles, and San Jose scored worse.

Amazon isn't the first to respond to this dismal transportation situation by offering workers a private transit option. Microsoft, for instance, has run a bus service for employees since 2007 that has proven highly popular. Though it began with just five lines, Microsoft Connector now runs 23 routes for its roughly 44,000 workers in the greater Seattle area.

Amazon is no doubt hoping its new commuter service will help it compete with other area employers who offer transportation benefits, making the company a more attractive option for the tech talent streaming into the communities surrounding Seattle.

Believers in free markets might also hope that the spread of private efforts such as Amazon Ride and Microsoft Connector will demonstrate that there are alternatives to the view that tackling traffic congestion is the sole purview of the government.

This is particularly relevant for Seattle-area taxpayers, who are being asked to vote this fall on a $54 billion proposal to expand the region's public transit service. Amazon and Microsoft are themselves major donors to the initiative, even as they're showing the city what can be done without the aid of taxpayer dollars.

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  1. Amazon Uner Alles!

    1. Fuck!

      1. You sound angry.

  2. Comment count prediction for this thread: 57, 45 of which will be made by Paul.

    1. I thought we weren’t supposed to feel the knife, Hugh.

      1. Sometimes a crowbar is the right tool

        1. Had this article been an expose on Pronto bike share, the comment thread would be 172 posts, with 300 of them mine, but the difference reported as spam.

          This subject… meh.

  3. Can’t wait until class warriors demand that the “high tech 1%” stop using private bus lines that actually run on time and provide clean, safe transportation, and get back to the crappy inefficient city system with the rest of them.

    1. I’m shocked they haven’t started already. You want to get your cut, you gotta put some work into it.

    2. I think they have already in San Francisco, throwing stones at Google and other tch company buses, demanding that they be abolished and the employees forced to ride the crap city bueses like everybody else.

      1. Indeed they have, although in SF they’re mostly blaming the tech employees with jacking up rents even though that’s a tangential problem at best.

        Seattle has gone full blown socialist though, so I really wonder how long until Amazon bails on the city entirely.

    3. Seattle and SF enjoy different flavors of socialism.

      I expect the class warriors in Seattle to force the Microsoft and Amazon buses to pick up other riders on the routes as long as they pay a (subsidized) fare – without having to make reservations.

      The Seattle Socialist Logic being “If we allow you to run a bus service on public streets, you must abide by our rules.”

      Amazon would probably go along with it and even expand their bus service (reduced fares for Prime customers) throughout the region. After 5 or 6 years City Council will then set the fares for all customers – which will be at a money-losing rate – which will then force Amazon to give up on the bus service and the city government will take over the lines. The fares will then increase but the service will still lose money which will merely be paid for by further taxing the gasoline usage of everyone who doesn’t use the service.

  4. Here in the SF Bay area, employer busses have attracted the predictable outrage from the chattering classes that they benefit silicon valley geeks.

    1. Dammit. Thanks.

    2. I’m wondering exactly the same thing.

  5. Related: longest hour ever

    http://nbc4i.com/2016/10/03/co…..-delivery/

  6. But can they ship an Amazon employee directly to my door?

    1. Can AT&T ship an employee directly to my door?
      And can she be named Lily?

  7. IIRC, SJWs in SF have protested similar private services run by big tech companies (Apple? Google?) for the benefit of their employees. Because it’s not fair to poor people, or something.

    1. I don’t know how Seattle proper will respond, but I haven’t seen any articles protesting the Microsoft buses in Redmond, which (as the article notes) have been running for quite a while. There’s a good-sized bus station on the MS campus.

  8. Believers in free markets might also hope that the spread of private efforts such as Amazon Ride and Microsoft Connector will demonstrate that there are alternatives to the view that tackling traffic congestion is the sole purview of the government.

    Says the intern, who has apparently drunk too much kool-aid. Not particularly sure who’s making this “sole purview” claim, especially considering the abundance of private commuter options in heavily populated areas.

    Look, it’s nice for Amazon’s employees that they are doing this. But this is neither uncommon nor particularly reflective of a conflict between Free Markets and Mass Transit.

    1. ” Not particularly sure who’s making this “sole purview” claim”
      Most progs? Including those who might themselves take a private bus?
      It kind of like public school proponents who send their own kids to private schools.

  9. RE: Amazon Launches Pilot Transit Service for Seattle Employees
    The company is now offering to ferry workers (and their pets) to and from work for free.

    Don’t these capitalist bastards from Amazon realize they will be eliminating many city jobs if they offer free rides?
    Don’t they realize their price for the ride is the right one?
    Don’t they realize they are undermining the Glorious Peoples Revolution in Seattle?
    Don’t they realize they will be saving the Seattle area taxpayers millions of dollars?
    Don’t they realize the only public service that admissible in our beloved slave state is one that forces the little people to cough up more of their ill-gotten gains?
    Don’t they realize these free rides will eliminate so many unnecessary government jobs along with their bloated salaries and benefit packages?
    What a bunch of sick bastards Amazon have.
    What else do they have up their sleeve?
    Free education for the unwashed masses on their website?

  10. Why are capitalists so intent on ruing public transit?!

    1. or even ruining it, even!

  11. Got a call about the voting initiative a week or two back. Very interesting seeing how all tax increases must be passed by a majority popular vote (one nice result is the lack of state income tax, etc). When they said $54 billion, I told them they were nuts – esp since their explanation includes “many features not ready for over a decade or two….”.

    Lived there (well…Mukilteo technically) for 2.5 years and used public transportation exactly once. I’ll pick up my Snohomish county mailing ballot when I clean out my PO Box in a couple of weeks (will probably be changing residency back to VA later this year now that I’m no longer active duty).

  12. Amazon and Microsoft are themselves major donors to the initiative,

    Sigh.

    1. They’re being pragmatic. That’s part of why they succeed.

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