Google Gives $6.8 Million for San Francisco Transit Passes

San Francisco officials have announced a $6.8 million gift from to the city's , the reports.

The largest private gift ever received by the agency will fund, for an additional two years, an existing program that allows low- and middle-income children between the ages of 5 and 17 to ride the Muni for free. To date, more than thirty-one thousand children have received free Muni passes through the program.

The gift comes as the region's tech industry is facing a backlash of criticism from city residents concerned about rising housing costs, gentrification, a wave of evictions, and perceived aloofness on the part of tech companies and their employees. Indeed, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has called on Silicon Valley to do more to address the affordability crisis for lower- and middle-income families in the city, the Chronicle reports. "They said, 'This is the first step we want to make,'" said Lee, describing a meeting with senior Google executives. "This is so dramatically exciting because it's a catalyst for other companies."

Last week, San Francisco software firm — whose founder, Marc Benioff, and his wife have given $100 million for a new children's hospital at the and millions more in support of education and to help the homeless — publicly supported efforts designed to make it more difficult for real estate speculators in the Bay Area to evict tenants in order to "flip" apartment units. In addition, the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation (), a sort of chamber of commerce for tech companies, has announced that it would lobby for amending state laws to slow down evictions of renters. Said founder Ron Conway, an angel investor and major supporter of the mayor, "We will make sure tech is involved every step of the way."

"." San Francisco Chronicle 02/28/2014. "." Associated Press 02/28/2014.