On Friday, October 1st, AC Transit celebrated its 50th anniversary.
When the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District was inaugurated on October 1, 1960, it would have been hard to imagine it would become a world renowned transit operation that carries more than 64 million passengers annually through two counties and 13 cities with around-the-clock service across the San Francisco Bay.
During the past 50 years, that is exactly what AC Transit has become– an East Bay work horse with a fleet of more than 600 vehicles traversing a 360-square mile region. With reliability and imagination, the District has grown to be the largest bus-only transit agency in America.
“We are proud of the service we have been able to deliver to the public for this past half century,” said Interim General Manager Mary King. “It has not been easy. At times-including right now-it has been extremely challenging. But we are dedicated to our communities and committed to providing dependable public transportation for another 50 years.”
The Key System, a private network of buses, trains and trolleys that ferried passengers from neighborhood to neighborhood and across the San Francisco Bay, was brought to a grinding halt in April 1958. Two years later, mandated by the voters, AC Transit District was born as the East Bay’s public bus company.
The new District built up its bus fleet with 250 new “transit liner” buses, extended service into new neighborhoods, created an intercity express bus network, and increased Bay Bridge bus service.
In the process, the District has won recognition and numerous awards from the American Public Transit Association. And it has been named a “National Clean Bus Leader” for its advanced environmental technology by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
“We were looking forward to AC Transit as an improvement in the system,” said 87-year old Martin Huff who was the first paying passenger to board an AC Transit bus in 1960. “It has fulfilled my expectations.”
Over the years, AC Transit has been ahead of the curve, consistently leading the transit industry with skills and innovations. Among them:
- The HyRoad program, the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration in the United States includes 12 very quiet, zero-emission fuel cell hybrid electric buses and two advanced design hydrogen fueling stations, in part powered with solar energy.
- The first bus company in Northern California to specially equip a fleet of buses with free WiFi access.
- Two Rapid Bus systems that reduce commute times from San Leandro to Berkeley, and from San Pablo to downtown Oakland.
- EasyPass programs tailored to employers, residential communities, and colleges that encourage increased ridership through pricing packages.
- Petitioned the state Legislature to increase the number of bicycles allowed on bike racks from two to three.
- The first transit agency to join the California Climate Action Registry. The Registry, a non-profit created by California statute in 2001, enables companies and other organizations to create a baseline for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions.
- Developed the Uptown Transit Center, a well-lit transit hub with over-hanging canopies and decorative sidewalk furniture as a key component in Oakland’s redevelopment plan.
- Park-n-Ride lots to allow automobile users easy access to bus service.
“All I can say is, it works for me,” said Huff. “I think AC Transit has done a very responsible job. Given the constraints they work with, it’s not easy.”
For more about the 50-year history of AC Transit– including photographs, artifacts, marketing materials and annual reports-visit the District’s website at www.actransit.org.
Cross-posted from http://www.actransit.org/.