Private Transit Service Steps Up in Silicon Valley

One of the most common arguments for subsidizing public transit is that the private sector won’t (or can’t) provide the service. Yet, black market taxis–“gypsy” cabs–are common in large and small cities. Now, a private entrepreneur in San Francisco is showing it can step into meet market demand for mass transit services in a very conventional market: commuter services.

The founder and chief executive of Bauer’s Limousine Service Inc.
<<a href=””>>, which provides the fleets of corporate buses that shuttle
Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. employees to work, launched a new line of luxury
commuter buses in August.

Dubbed Wi-Drive, four frills-studded buses were rolled out at a total cost of
more than $2 million to woo technology workers to commute in Wi-Fi-enabled buses
from San Francisco to points both north and south.

So far, the bet appears to be paying off. Despite the recession, Bauer said the
52-seat buses are running at 60% to 70% capacity and attracting riders from
companies like Cisco Systems Inc.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the owner, Gary Bauer, got his start with his own version of a gypsy cab. He drove friends around as part of a landscaping business he started. Then, he expanded into a limousine services, a relatively less regulated part of the transportation sector. Now, his commuting service provides transportation to 6,000 people and ridership has increased 30 percent over the past five years.