Amazon workers in greater Seattle will soon get another commuting option. Amazon Ride, a bus shuttle service for full- and part-time employees (and their dogs) will kick off next Monday, according to a shuttle website, first spotted by tech publication GeekWire.
Commuters can use their smartphones to reserve slots on shuttle buses to two Amazon Seattle office locations from Redmond, Issaquah, and Bellevue starting on Friday. Nearly 30,000 of about 270,000 total Amazon employees worldwide are based in Washington. Most of them work in Seattle.
Amazon’s neighbor and rival Microsoft (MSFT) started offering shuttle service to employees nine years ago, in hopes of alleviating commute woes, which are notorious in the area for people trying to get to its Redmond campus, especially from Seattle to the west. And the Silicon Valley-to-San Francisco corridor is littered with corporate shuttle buses, collectively called Google (GOOG) buses even though they’re also offered by Facebook (FB) and other area tech companies. Many employees who work in these suburban locales prefer to live in the city. For Amazon, which prides itself on its downtown headquarters, the opposite may be true.
These corporate shuttle buses brought their own controversies. San Francisco residents complain about noise and idling motors, and the fact that the free shuttle service enables tech millennials to soak up downtown housing and drive up rents. Critics also say the Wi-Fi-equipped buses enable tech behemoths to wring a few more hours of work out of employees.
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It was unclear from the website, but presumably the shuttle service is free. Aside from normal commutes, workers can get up to five additional (non-commute) rides in case of emergencies. Contractors are not eligible to use the service.
Easing the stress and expense of commutes is a major employee perk, although it is sort of surprising that Amazon hasn’t offered shuttle service till now.