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Google funds free transit rides for youth in San Francisco

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Google has donated $6.8 million to provide free transit rides for San Francisco youth for the next two years, amid protests over the tech firms' use of public infrastructure in the city.

The $6.8 million grant will fund the Free Muni for Low Income Youth program, which provides over 31,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 17 free transport if they are from low-income families. The cost of the project was previously paid for by the city.

In San Francisco, Google and other tech companies use private shuttles to ferry staff to and from their offices. The shuttles use public bus stops to pick up employees, and have become something of a symbol for the rising inequality caused in part by the tech firm's presence. As an influx of skilled workers flooded the Bay area, landlords sought to take advantage -- and rocketing rent prices have forced many low-income families out of their homes. 

Google's donation comes a month after the search engine giant and others agreed to pay for their use of public bus stops, but as these are gestures rather than solutions, protests are expected to continue. 

Google said in a statement to the Verge:

"San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops. So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students for the next two years."

Read on: The Verge

— By on February 28, 2014, 12:43 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure