Google ferry? Why stop there? How about . . . Google zeppelins?

Google started its own ferry service this week, running a 149-passenger catamaran between San Francisco and Redwood City. Between that and the ubiquitous tech buses running up and down Bay Area freeways, we wonder what other alternative transit methods tech companies could institute.

(Cue wavy dream sequence effects.)

Tesla Motors could build a mini Hyperloop, connecting its Palo Alto headquarters and its Fremont manufacturing plant. Sure it’d cost a billion dollars or so, but Elon Musk has some spare change in the bank. And employees would probably like the 3.2 second, 400-mph trip a lot more than slogging their way across Highway 237.

Apple could build an elevated bicycle byway above Cupertino city streets and Interstate 280. Don’t laugh, a similar idea has been proposed in London. Locals are worried about how Apple’s new “Spaceship” headquarters will clog traffic in the area. The solution? Take them off the streets — literally. Workers could pedal to their jobs on dedicated bike paths while the rest of us poor saps are stuck below, in our cars. And since Apple is always looking for the next big thing, they can find a way to profit from it too — in 2010 they did apply for a patent for a “smart bike.”

• A Silicon Valley subway. This one’s even more far-fetched than a hyperloop. But how handy would it be to have a BART-like commuter train (some engineering genius can figure out a way to make it less nasty than BART seats and carpets) that stopped at all the major employers? (“Gotta run, need to catch the 7:15 to Facebook!”) As an added bonus, each company could design their own station (I picture Apple’s station being like a big, clean mall; Cisco’s would be a boring but efficient system of tubes; HP’s would be a vast, empty space that was built for 35,000 more employees than it has.)

• Helicopters! During the BART strike last year, carpool app-maker Avego ran a promotion to win free cross-bay helicopter rides to work. So why not simply fly over traffic every day? They already do it in Sao Paolo. Sure, the cost is prohibitive and it’ll increase air pollution, but all the smog will blow . . . oh, I don’t know, somewhere where techies won’t have to worry about it, like Livermore. And the big U.S. military buildup over the past decade-plus has probably made a lot of surplus helicopters available. How about taking a Chinook air-bus to work? Or better yet, a V-22 Osprey? (Yeah, that’s more Silicon Valley style.) Might have to reinforce some corporate rooftops, but just fund a new venture round to cover the expense.

• Zeppelins! They’re not just for Sim City anymore. Airships (come on, zeppelin is such a cooler word) are actually being bandied about as commuter alternatives. They’re environmentally friendly and don’t require much infrastructure. Too slow, you say? Not so. One proposed zeppelin system — Airbia — would carry 400 passengers and travel 93 mph, which is just a notch slower than fast-lane traffic on I-280 on the Peninsula. Don’t worry, a zeppelin fender-bender wouldn’t result in another Hindenburg. They fly on non-flammable helium now. And just to point this out, Google headquarters is right next to Moffett Field . . . which has a famous blimp hanger . . . and is looking to get redeveloped. And Google has played with a scale model blimp. And is testing balloon technology. See? It’s all coming together! I’m calling Google zeppelins by 2019.

Got any other bright ideas? Leave a comment, the best idea will receive a free trip on the debut Hyperloop voyage.*

*The best idea actually will not win anything. Just satisfaction.

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (311 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.