1964: Marin County Transit District (MCTD) was formed by a vote of the people of Marin County to provide local transit service within Marin County. The agency is now called Marin Transit and still has responsibility of local transit.
June 1970: The Golden Gate Transit operating division began with two employees: H. Donald White was hired as the first Golden Gate Transit manager and Kathleen Connell was hired as the first administrative staff. Later that summer, Jerome Kuykendall was the first hire brought over from the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District engineering department as Transit Planner, Brooks Rice was brought on as the first Maintenance Supervisor, and Bob Brower was hired as the first Transportation Supervisor.
August 15, 1970: A private bus contractor, Marin Transit Systems, Inc., under the leadership of Ted Barron (1933 to 2007), operated the Sausalito Ferry feeder shuttle service under a contract with MCTD that Golden Gate Transit had oversight of as well. Golden Gate Transit took over the operation of the ferry feeder service under contract with MCTD on December 15, 1971, as noted below.
1970 and 1971: Golden Gate Transit staff focused on the planning and development of a bus system which included extensive public outreach (21 public hearings in the Highway 101 corridor), route planning, and design and specification of a bus fleet.
October 1971: Golden Gate Transit staff and operations moved into a leased warehouse on Jacoby Street in San Rafael, CA.
Monday, November 22, 1971, to Thursday, December 9, 1971: The first of 30 Greyhound drivers were hired by Golden Gate Transit. Wayne Black was the first of the Greyhound “Dirty 30” drivers hired on November 22, 1971.
December 15, 1971: According to the GGBHTD September 1975 report to the California Legislature, Golden Gate Transit began operating Marin Local Service, under contract to MCTD, with the operation of three routes:
- Sausalito Ferry feeder shuttle service;
- A route operating in central and northern Marin;
- Ferry feeder shuttle service to the ferry port in Tiburon, CA.
January 1, 1972 (Saturday): Golden Gate Transit transbay service began with 152 coaches -- 20 leased from Greyhound Lines and 132 GMC “new look” model coaches that Golden Gate Transit purchased.
January 2, 1972 (Sunday): Greyhound Lines service ceased at midnight.
January 3, 1972 (Monday): Golden Gate Transit transbay commute service began.
By August 1972: With the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA and now FTA) grants providing funding to acquire more buses, Golden Gate Transit operations grew to 175 buses, consisting of new coaches and the 20 vehicles leased from Greyhound.
By early 1973: With additional buses purchased, and after the return of the 20 leased Greyhound buses, the Golden Gate Transit fleet consisted of 188 new coaches, all with customer amenities including reclining seats, reading lamps, and overhead luggage racks.
December 1974: The first-ever special holiday bus, decorated by bus maintenance staff, hit the road, starting an annual tradition that continued for 28 years through to 2002.
January 31, 1975: The San Rafael bus facility at 1011 Andersen Drive was completed. In 1987, the facility was expanded to include a heavy duty maintenance shop, and additions were made to the body shop, fuel island, and original maintenance building.
June 1975: The Santa Rosa bus facility, located at 3225 Industrial Drive, was completed.
February 1976: Operations began out of a newly constructed Novato bus facility.
1978: "Annual Holiday Shopper Shuttle Bus Service" on Route 61 provided transportation between the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and Union Square shopping area during the winter holiday season. This service was terminated in the 1990s due to low ridership and increasing operational costs.
1979: An Advisory Committee on Accessibility was formed to provide input to Golden Gate Transit and Ferry staff on issues pertaining to seniors and persons with disabilities.
1982: Special bus service to San Francisco 49ers football games at Candlestick Park started. This service ended in 2009.
1982: A discount fare program for frequent Golden Gate Transit and Ferry users was established; frequent riders continue to receive fare discounts today.
January 1, 1982: Golden Gate Transit's 10th anniversary. One-hundred and four of the original 180 drivers were still employed.
January 16, 1984: Golden Gate Transit , in association with Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, sponsored a “Ride Golden Gate Transit to Hawaii” sweepstakes to attract more commuters to ride the bus or ferry. With a banner over the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza reading “Ride Golden Gate Transit to Hawaii,” traffic came to a standstill at the toll plaza as motorists read the banner and received a flyer about how to enter the promotion. Bus and ferry riders were given entry forms too.
1985: Free Ferry Shuttle Bus Service, Routes 67 and 69, began operating between the Golden Gate San Francisco Ferry Terminal and San Francisco employment centers during morning and evening commute hours. This service was discontinued.
March 1987: A second administration building was constructed adjacent to the existing San Rafael bus facility administrative building at 1011 Anderson Drive to house the growing needs of the District. Upon completion, the Planning and Marketing departments moved out of the existing bus administration building into this new administration building.
1989: A Bus Passengers Advisory Committee was formed to assist the District in maintaining attractive and effective bus services. The committee is still comprised of a wide range of bus passengers from throughout the service area.
October 1989: In the month following the October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta Earthquake, which closed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Transit transbay bus ridership increased by as much as 8 percent. Golden Gate Transit and Ferry have both played an important role during regional emergencies over the years and continue to do so.
November 3, 1989: A new Santa Rosa bus facility and terminal building was completed, consisting of a single-story building with a passenger waiting area, drivers’ lounge, baggage area, ticket sales area, equipment room, dispatch office, restrooms, and additional office space. The facility was dedicated as the Helen Putnam Memorial Santa Rosa Bus Facility in honor of a former District board member and local schoolteacher who passed away in 1984.
1990: Golden Gate Transit Route 90 to Sonoma Valley was established to serve Sonoma Valley and accommodate patrons in growing communities throughout the service area. The route was discontinued in 2003.
November 9, 1990: A groundbreaking ceremony for the San Rafael Transit Center was held.
1991: Golden Gate Transit commute service between Sonoma and Marin counties began as a means to assist in relieving congestion in the US Highway 101 Corridor.
May 10, 1991: For $1860, Golden Gate Transit purchased a 38-foot, 1954 GMC model TDM 4801 transit coach that had been operated by Greyhound Lines on the Marin/San Francisco route when Golden Gate Transit service began. The bus had been sold to Peerless Stagelines and operated in East Bay charter service until 1988. Golden Gate Transit restored the bus and has used it at a number of public events starting with Golden Gate Transit's 20th anniversary in January 1992.
1992: The C. Paul Bettini San Rafael Transit Center received the Ted Van Midde Memorial Master Award from the Northern California Concrete Association.
January 12, 1992: The newly constructed C. Paul Bettini San Rafael Transit Center opened.
January 24, 1992: The official grand opening of the San Rafael Transit Center took place, coinciding with Golden Gate Transit's 20th anniversary celebration. The transit center was constructed to consolidate transit passenger activities and intermodal connections among regional and local transit, paratransit, intercity bus, airport bus, and taxi services. Dedicated in honor of the popular former mayor of San Rafael and former District board member, the new transit center improved the safety and convenience of passengers and reduced traffic and other impacts associated with curbside boarding activities.
August 7, 1992: Hundreds of puppies and 4-H families convened at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael for Fun Day, where pups and families are put through a series of obstacles and tests including boarding and sitting on a Golden Gate Transit bus! Fun Day was an annual tradition for many years during the late 1980s and 1990s.
October 1992: Golden Gate Transit’s first manager, H. Donald White, was inducted into the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Hall of Fame.
1993: Golden Gate Transit initiated a program to increase the number of bicycle racks located at bus stops.
March 7, 1993: Golden Gate Transit Route 40 started, linking Marin County with the East Bay across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The route continues today, supported by funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
February 1993: Golden Gate Transit’s first "Whale Bus," named “Pollution Solution,” created by international renowned artist George Sumner, went into service. The bus was dubbed “Humphrey the Whale Bus” in honor of Humphrey, the humpback whale that errantly entered San Francisco Bay and became well known on national television for his misadventures in the Bay in 1985 and again in 1990.
December 1993: A Golden Gate Transit tradition came to an end after 19 years when the last holiday bus rolled out into service. The holiday bus program started in 1974 when employees decorated a bus for the holidays creating some good cheer for customers. The program was renewed in the early 2000s and continues today.
1994: Golden Gate Transit ordered 41 buses from bus manufacturer Flxible, and for the first time, increasing seating capacity (from 39 to 45 passengers) and providing wheelchair access.
March 1995: Golden Gate Transit operated a 45-foot, 57-passenger “loaner” coach from bus manufacturer MCI as a prototype. The bus was used on various routes throughout the Golden Gate Transit service area.
July 1, 1995: The District's transit discount fare program was rebranded as the Ride Value Discount Program.
1996: Golden Gate Transit allowed advertising on the side of buses for the first time. Up to this point, ads were only allowed on the backs of buses.
January 1996: The District Board of Directors approved the purchase 30 new MCI coaches. These coaches were 5 feet longer and carried more passengers (up to 57) than the rest of Golden Gate Transit's fleet. The buses went into service on March 3, 1997.
May 3, 1996: Golden Gate Transit's Friendship Bus hit the road in celebration of the Olympic Torch Relay which crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Atlanta, Ga. for the 1996 Winter Olympics.
May 1996: The District launched its website at www.goldengate.org.
January 1, 1997: Golden Gate Transit's 25th anniversary.
October 1997: Golden Gate Transit began receiving 30 new 40-foot coaches from NovaBus.
1999: Two-postion bike racks were added to the front exterior of all 40-foot Golden Gate Transit buses. These were replaced by 3-position front-mounted racks in 2009. Luggage bay racks were added to MCI buses in 2006.
December 2001: Golden Gate Transit began soft-launch testing of the new regional smart fare card called TransLink (now Clipper).
2002: Golden Gate Transit launched an e-blast alert system for customers wishing to receive service alerts.
2003: The Bay Area-wide telephone and website for all transportation information was established as 511 phone (711 for TDD) and www.511.org.
Fall 2003: For the first time, Golden Gate Transit used eBay to sell one of its surplus buses. The test didn't work, but in 2004, Golden Gate Transit did sell the original 1993 "Humphrey the Whale" bus on eBay.
Fall 2003: Golden Gate Transit launched new exterior graphics on its new buses. The new graphics feature the new District logo which includes an image of the Golden Gate Bridge.
November 2, 2003: Golden Gate Transit reduced bus service and rolled out an entirely restructured route system. Extensive customer outreach and workshops were held throughout the bus service area.
2003 and 2004: The Ride and Roll transit fare program was put in place for Marin County students.
Spring 2004: Golden Gate Transit had its first fully wrapped bus – an ad for Duracite, a company that makes counter tops.
2004: The first Whale Bus -- "Humphrey the Whale" -- sold on eBay.
2005: Golden Gate Transit unveiled its second Whale Bus, "Ride for the Environment," painted by local artist George Sumner.
2005: For the first time, on the first five Spare the Air Days, free Golden Gate Transit and Ferry rides were provided and funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).
June 11, 2005: Golden Gate Transit operated service to San Francisco’s Black and White Ball for the first and only time.
May 28, 2005: This was the first season of Muir Woods shuttle Route 66. The service -- sponsored by Marin County, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), and Golden Gate Transit -- was free for riders this first season.
October 2006: Golden Gate Transit added underbelly bike racks to all 45-foot MCI coaches.
Summer 2006: For the second season, free Golden Gate Transit and Ferry rides were offered on the first three Spare the Air Days. A Golden Gate Transit bus was transformed into a fully wrapped "Spare the Air" bus for the summer. The free transit days were funded by MTC and BAAQMD.
2006: Golden Gate Transit and Ferry schedules were first made available for download onto PDAs.
Summer 2008: Golden Gate Transit's “Carbon Footprint” bus was created by fairgoers at Marin County Fair.
March 16, 2009: New Golden Gate Transit fareboxes were installed on the entire bus fleet following a weekend of long hours in the maintenance shop where the installations were completed.
June 15, 2009: Golden Gate Transit launched a new express Route 101 between Santa Rosa and San Francisco.
July 2009: Three-postion bike racks were added to the front exterior of all 40-foot Golden Gate Transit buses.
July 6, 2009: Golden Gate Transit introduced an enhanced e-blast alert system for customers to sign-up for service alert emails and text messages.
May 30, 2012: A grand opening ceremony was held at the new Golden Gate Customer Service Center at the San Rafael Transit Center. District Board President Janet Reilly, General Manager Denis Mulligan, and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey spoke at the event.
August 1, 2012: A collectible, limited edition Clipper® Card was developed in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and released for public purchase as a tribute to the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary on May 27, 2012. The unique card cost $7, plus the amount of transit value loaded to the card.
August and October 2012: As the prelude to the 2013 America’s Cup, the America’s Cup World Series sailing event was held in August and October 2012 in San Francisco. With the America’s Cup Village located at San Francisco’s Marina Green, just a few blocks from several Golden Gate Transit stops, sailing enthusiasts rode regularly scheduled bus service on weekdays and supplemental service from southern Marin to San Francisco on weekends.
September 7, 2012: An advertising policy for transit facilities was adopted by the District Board of Directors, providing for commercial advertising and proprietary advertising that promotes the District’s own services. All advertising involving religion or politics, as well as advertising that depicts anything violent, illegal, obscene, or defamatory, was excluded.
April 18, 2013: A new third-generation zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus began operating on select Marin Transit local routes and Golden Gate Transit regional routes. The Zero Emission Bay Area (ZEBA) was a group of five transit agencies (AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Santa Clara VTA, SamTrans, and Muni) which collectively operated a fleet of 12 third-generation fuel cell zero-emission buses to provide service in the Bay Area, making the Bay Area home to the largest single fleet of fuel cell buses in the U.S. These third-generation fuel cell buses featured improvements over previous generations, including a redesigned chassis (5,000 pounds lighter and 3 inches shorter). Each bus was powered by a 120 kW fuel cell power system, built by UTC power of Connecticut, and an advanced lithium ion energy storage system by EnerDel of Indiana. Hydrogen tanks on the roof allowed for a range of 220 to 240 miles, and batteries recharged during braking providing extra power for acceleration and climbing steep grades.
April 19, 2013: A project to install new bikes racks at the San Rafael Transit Center was completed. In addition to new bike racks, work included installation of map cases, informational kiosks, and signposts.
August-October 2013: America's Cup fans rode Golden Gate Ferry and added Golden Gate Transit service to San Francisco to watch the United States bring home the America's Cup. The two waterfront venues—the America's Cup Village at Marina Green and the America's Cup Park at Piers 27 and 29—were the perfect settings to experience this oldest international sporting event.
August 2013: The District developed a new look for its See Something? Say Something! public awareness program. Posters were created for each of the District's operating divisions as an ongoing enhancement to existing safety and security measures. See Something? Say Something! is a simple reminder to customers to report suspicious or atypical persons or things encountered while traveling on a bus or ferry or across the Bridge. The posters—displayed throughout District facilities, at bus stops and transit terminals, and in various Bridge locations—encourage customers to join the District employees as the "eyes and ears" of their transportation environment to aid in maintaining a safe environment for everyone. This campaign won a First Place APTA (Amercian Public Transportation Association) AdWheel Award!
September 2013: A free Golden Gate Transit shuttle to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal—dubbed "The Wave" in beautifully branded buses—was introduced as a 9-month demonstration project to help alleviate a parking shortage in the terminal parking lot. Ferry riders coming from the Ross valley communities of Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross, Kentfield, and Greenbrae could leave their cars at home and enjoy a complimentary, hassle-free bus ride directly to the terminal. The service was made permanent in June 2014, based on strong ridership.
Fall 2013: Marin Transit, in partnership with Golden Gate Transit, replaced bus stop signs throughout Marin County. The new signs included route number, destination, operational information for local routes, and a bus stop ID number allowing customers to more easily get schedule information.
February 2014: Golden Gate Transit moved its San Francisco bus facility to Third and Perry streets. Nearly a decade in the making, including getting environmental clearances and coordinating with neighborhood groups, the move established a long-term midday storage facility with a lease that provides for up to 35 years in the same location. The move also lowered annual lease fees by an estimated $700,000.
May 2014: The District rolled out a new campaign aimed at increasing safety awareness among employees and customers. Colorful posters were reminders to stay safe by being alert and aware of their surroundings. Keep each other safe—Together we are Golden!
June 2014: Golden Gate Transit offered riders a change of pace with new all-day bus service between Marin and San Francisco on Routes 4 and 27. Great for students, flex workers, and residents hoping to catch a bus to the City for shopping, dining, or an event, both routes serve popular San Francisco destinations like the new Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, the Presidio, Ghirardelli Square, and Fisherman's Wharf. This service was also promoted as a great alternative to Giants fans, since buses stop a short walk from the Giants ballpark, and for people in San Francisco wanting to experience the beauty of Marin County.
August 2014: Golden Gate Transit customers began enjoying onboard WiFi service. The free, easy-to-use service allowed customers to check email or surf the Internet while they rode the bus.
November & December 2014: Golden Gate Transit added 25 new Motor Coach Industries (MCI) D4500 commuter coaches to its fleet. Features of the new buses, numbered 956-980, included an upgraded emissions package and 120-volt outlets for charging personal devices. The buses traveled from the MCI plant in Pembina, ND.
December 14, 2014: Golden Gate Transit eliminated its longest running routes, Route 80. The route was removed due to diminished ridership and duplicative routing available on Routes 70 and 101. Resources saved by this elimination were used to expand service on Routes 70 and 101. Customers benefited by this change with shorter travel times to/from San Francisco, more frequent weekend service, and less confusion for riders.
January 10-12, 2015: During a 3-day closure of the Golden Gate Bridge to install a moveable median barrier, Golden Gate Transit buses were the only passenger vehicles permitted over the Bridge between San Francisco and the North Bay.
Spring 2015: In an effort to coordinate the eligibility age for youth discount fares throughout the Bay Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) regional Clipper coordination initiative endorsed a recommendation that all participating operators move toward a consistent standard for youth fares for ages 5-18, including on Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. The change became effective July 1, 2015.
July 2015: The District rolled out a new marketing campaign on buses and ferries aimed at improving customer conduct with the tagline “Local Pride, Respect Your Ride.”
September 13, 2015: Golden Gate Transit began operating different Route 101 schedules on Saturdays and Sundays/holidays to more accurately reflect traffic patterns on weekends. Customers were reminded to check schedules carefully to catch the right bus at the right time.
December 2015: Golden Gate Transit launched a new commute bus route between the East Bay and Marin County as a demonstration project. Route 580 ran five morning trips westbound and five evening trips eastbound, with stops in San Rafael, Albany, Berkeley, and Emeryville. The new route was financed through MTC RM2 funds. Ridership on the route was not strong enough and the route was eliminated in mid 2016.
Golden Gate Transit Route 42 was eliminated and replaced with expanded Route 40 service to improve travel times and provide increased service in the area. With this change, Golden Gate Transit no longer provided direct service to the Richmond BART station.
June 2016: Golden Gate Transit replaced Route 10 with new Route 30. The new route operates between San Rafael and San Francisco, via Sausalito and Highway 101.
Fall 2017: Golden Gate Transit launched a new feature on its website for customers - individual route maps. These online maps complement each route's timetable by showing all stops served by the route.
September 2017: With the introduction of SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District) train service between Sonoma County and downtown San Rafael, Golden Gate Transit brought back ferry shuttle Route 31 to connect train passengers with departing and arriving Larkspur Ferries.
October 2017: Golden Gate Transit's northern bus yard and dispatch center in Santa Rosa was threatened by the North Bay wildfires. To ease the burden on the affected communities, Golden Gate Transit offered free bus service in and out of Sonoma County.
November 2017: As part of an ongoing partnership with Marin Transit, a Golden Gate Transit maintenance team prepared for the delivery of two state-of-the-art battery electric buses (BEBs) manufactured by BYD Motors in Lancaster, California. The BEBs, fully financed by Marin Transit for operation on local Marin County routes, will be maintained and charged at Golden Gate Transit's San Rafael facility. In addition, two electric vehicle charging stations were installed through a team effort with Golden Gate Bridge electricians.
December 2017: In support of local families and communities affected by the recent North Bay wildfires, Golden Gate Transit's 2017 holiday bus proudly featured the words #northbaystrong and "Strength in Community" and operated in service throughout the North Bay during the holiday season.
March 2018: District staff kicked off a multi-year public planning process to discuss a new transit center in downtown San Rafael. The existing San Rafael Transit Center will be bisected as the SMART train is extended to Larkspur in late 2019. The public was asked to weigh in on the best location and configuration of a new downtown hub.
April 28, 2018: Golden Gate Transit brought back the Bus Operator and Mechanic Technician Roadeo where competitors showcased their skills and talents in a variety of challenges. Winners got to represent Golden Gate Transit at the 2018 APTA International Bus Roadeo in Tampa, Florida.
September 9, 2018: Golden Gate Transit began serving the new Salesforce Transit Center in downtown San Francisco. Routes 30, 70, 101, and 101X ran from the Bus Plaza located between Fremont and Beale streets on the street level.
December 2018: Golden Gate Transit’s annual holiday bus returned for another season in support of local food drives. The bus was assigned to routes through January 2019, and customers were asked to keep their eyes out for it on the road and share photos of it on social media with the #GGTHolidayBus and #HowToGive hashtags.
December 2018: Golden Gate Transit began testing new hybrid-electric Gillig buses for its fleet of the future. The buses were designed specifically for our service needs, with plenty of power to travel the Waldo Grade located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The fleet of 67 buses will replace the 2004 Orions.
January 2019: The District kicked off a months-long, multi-platform "Rethink Your Commute" campaign to encourage ridership on Golden Gate Transit buses. The campaign was developed after conducting a series of focus groups with North Bay residents. Ads appeared in print and on the internet, radio, and TV.
January 2019: SMART construction began to take place within the San Rafael Transit Center. The transit center was reconfigured to allow for better entry and exit for buses. Passenger loading areas were also shifted to accommodate construction.
May 2019: Golden Gate Transit began rolling out 67 new hybrid buses to its fleet. Using a combination of electricity and diesel, the new buses are 25% cleaner burning than the buses they are replacing. They were manufactured locally, by Gillig, located in Livermore, California, and feature engines specifically built for our hilly service area.
Summer 2019: Golden Gate Transit partnered with Transit app to make it easier to answer the question, “Where’s my bus?” Transit app features real-time arrivals, a trip planner that plots your journey and allows riders to select preferred transit modes and travel dates/times, a trip companion that gives step-by-step directions for your trip, and service advisories with push notifications.
December 2019: Golden Gate Transit implemented commute service changes in central and northern Marin to better balance resources and passenger demand.
December 2019: In keeping with its annual holiday tradition, Golden Gate Transit unveiled its newest holiday bus wrapped with a beautiful image of the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear winter evening. This season's bus was a rolling reminder to all San Francisco Bay Area residents of those less fortunate in our communities and of easy ways to give.
April 2020: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020, Golden Gate Transit collaborated once again with the husband and wife team of environmental artist George and Donnalei Sumner to create a new whale bus. This third "whale bus" will help spread a message of environmental protection and conservation.
July 2020: Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry joined other Bay Area Transit agencies in the launch of Clipper START - a new pilot program offering up to 50% off single rides on select transit agencies. Eligible Bay Area residents age 19-64 who meet certain income requirements are issued new Clipper cards that automatically apply the discount.
January 2022: Golden Gate Transit Celebrates its 50th Anniversary.