Golden Gate Transit Timeline

1960s  |  1970s  |  1980s  |  1990s  |  2000s  |  2010s

See also:

GGT: A Traffic Congestion Solution
GGT Fleet
GGT Ridership Statistics and more
Photo Library
Short-Range Transit Plan

1964: Marin County Transit District (MCTD) was formed by a vote of the people of Marin County and was given the responsibility for providing 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 (GGT) operating division began with two employees: H. Donald White was hired as the first GGT manager and Kathleen Connell was the first administrative staff hired. Next, 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 GGT had oversight of as well. GGT took over the operation of the ferry feeder service under contract with MCTD on December 15, 1971 as noted below.

1970 and 1971: GGT staff was focused was on the planning and development of the GGT bus system which included extensive including public outreach (21 public hearings in the 101 corridor), route planning, and design and specification of the bus fleet.

October 1971: GGT staff and operations moved into a leased warehouse on Jacoby St, San Rafael, CA.

Monday, November 22, 1971 to Thursday, December 9, 1971: The first of 30 Greyhound drivers were hired by GGT; 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, GGT began operation of Marin Local Service, under contract to MCTD, with the operation of three routes:

  1. Sausalito Ferry feeder shuttle service.
  2. A route operating in central and northern Marin.
  3. Ferry feeder shuttle service to the ferry port in Tiburon, CA.

January 1, 1972 (Saturday): GGT transbay basic service started. GGT began bus service with 152 coaches, with 20 leased from Greyhound Lines and 132 GMC “new look” model coaches that were purchased by GGT.

January 2, 1972 (Sunday): Greyhound Lines service ceased at midnight.

January 3, 1972 (Monday): GGT transbay commute service started.

By August 1972: With the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA and now FTA) grants providing funding to acquire more buses, GGT was operating 175 buses: 164 were new coaches and 20 were still leased from Greyhound.

By early 1973: With additional buses purchased, and after the return of the 20 leased buses to Greyhound Lines, the GGT bus 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: 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: Santa Rosa Bus Facility, located at 3225 Industrial Drive, was completed.

February 1976: Operations began out of the newly constructed Novato Bus Facility.

1978: Annual Holiday Shopper Shuttle Bus Service Route 61 was started to provide 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: The GGBHTD Advisory Committee on Accessibility was formed to provide input to GGT and GGF 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 GGT and GGF users was established, and frequent riders continue to receive fare discounts today.

January 1, 1982: 10th anniversary of GGT; 104 of the original 180 drivers employed by GGT were still employed by the GGBHTD.

January 16, 1984: GGT, 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 as motorists read the banner and received a flyer about how to enter the promotion at the toll plaza. 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 in (year is being researched).

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, Planning and Marketing Departments were moved out of the existing bus administration building into the new District administration building.

1989: A Bus Passengers Advisory Committee was formed to assist the District in maintaining attractive and effective bus services. The committee is comprised of a wide range of bus passengers from throughout the service area.

October 1989: GGT and GGF have both played an important role during regional emergencies over the years. After the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, which closed the Oakland San Francisco Bay Bridge, transbay bus ridership increased by as much as 8 percent during the month following the quake.

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 the Board Director and schoolteacher who passed away in 1984.

1990: Route 90 to Sonoma Valley was established to serve Sonoma Valley and to accommodate patrons in growing communities throughout the service area. This service ended in (year is being researched).

November 9, 1990: The groundbreaking ceremony for the San Rafael Transit Center was held.

1991: 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, GGT purchased a 38-foot-long, 1954 GMC model TDM 4801 transit coach that had been operated by Greyhound Lines on the Marin/San Francisco route when service first began. It was originally sold to Peerless Stagelines and was operated in East Bay charter service until 1988. The bus was restored and been used at a number of public events starting with the 20th anniversary of GGT 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 (SRTC) opened.

January 24, 1992: The SRTC official grand opening took place and was celebrated along with the GGT 20th anniversary celebration for GGT. 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 District Director, 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. At Fun Day, the 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: GGT’s first manager, H. Donald White, was inducted into the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Hall of Fame.

1993: GGT initiated a program to increase the number of bicycle racks located at bus stops.

March 7, 1993: 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: GGT’s 1st Whale Bus “Pollution Solution,” created by international renowned artist George Sumner, went into service road. The bus was dubbed “Humphrey the Whale Bus” in honor of the 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 GGT tradition came to an end in 1993 after 19 years when the last GGT-created special 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.

1994: GGT ordered 41 buses made by Flxible. For the first time, increased seating capacity from 39 to 45 passengers, while provide wheelchair access as well.

March 1995: GGT operated a 45-foot-long, 57-passenger “loaner” coach from MCI as a prototype to test in service on various routes throughout the service area.

July 1, 1995: The transit discount fare program was rebranded as the Ride Value Discount Program.

1996: GGT allowed advertising on the side of buses for the first time. Up to this point, ads were only allowed on the back of buses.

January 1996: Board approved the purchase 30 new MCI coaches which are 5 feet longer than the rest of the fleet and carry 57 passengers – more than the other coaches in the fleet. The buses went into service on March 3, 1997.

May 3, 1996: GGT Friendship Bus hit the road in celebration of the Olympic Torch Relay which crossed the Golden Gate Bridge while on its way to Atlanta, Georgia for the 1996 Winter Olympics.

May 1996: GGBHTD website was launched at

January 1, 1997: GGT’s 25th anniversary.

October 1997: GGT began receiving its 30 new 40-foot-long NovaBus coaches.

1999: 2-postion bike racks were added to the front exterior of all 40-foot-long buses. See 2006 for racks added to MCI luggage bays, and 2009 for 3-positon racks.

2001: Vendor contract started for the construction of new solar bus shelters along US Highway 101.

December 2001: GGT began soft-launch testing of the new regional smart card fare media called TransLink (now called Clipper).

2002: GGT introduces e-blast alert system for customers to sign-up for service alert emails.

2003: The Bay Area-wide telephone and website for all transportation information was established as 511 phone (711 for TDD) and

Fall 2003: GGT uses eBay to try to sell one of its surplus buses, it didn’t work this time but 2004, the original 1993 Humphrey the Whale bus was sold on eBay.

Fall 2003: GGT launches new exterior look for new buses added to the fleet with the new logo that includes the image of the GGB.

November 2, 2003: GGT bus service reductions resulted in an entirely restructured bus service deployment.

2003 and 2004: Ride and Roll transit fare program was in place for Marin County students.

Spring 2004: GGT has its first fully wrapped bus – an ad for Duracite, a company that makes counter tops.

2004: 1st Whale Bus sells on eBay.

2005: 2nd Whale Bus painted by George Sumner – “A Ride for the Environment.”

2005: For the first time, on the first five Spare the Air Days, free transit rides were provided and funded by the MTC and BAAQMD.

June 11, 2005: GGT operated service to San Francisco’s black and white ball for the 1st time and last time.

May 28, 2005: First season of Muir Woods shuttle Route 66; the service was free during the first season and was sponsored by Marin County, GGNRA, and GGT.

October 2006: Underbelly bike racks were added to all 45-foot-ling MCI coaches as these coaches are too long for exterior front mounted racks.

Summer 2006: For the second season, free transit rides were offered on the first three Spare the Air Days. A GGT bus was transformed into a fully wrapped Spare the Air bus for the summer. The MTC and BAAQMD funded the free transit days.

2006: GGT and GGF schedules were made available for download onto PDAs

Summer 2008: GGT “Carbon Footprint” bus was created by fairgoers at Marin County Fair.

March 16, 2009: New fareboxes went live on the entire bus fleet following a weekend of long hours in the maintenance shop where the installation was completed.

June 15, 2009: New express Route 101 launched.

July 2009: 3-postion bike racks were added to the front exterior of all 40-foot-long buses.

July 6, 2009: GGT introduces enhanced e-blast alert system for customers to sign-up for service alert emails and text messages.

May 30, 2012: A grand opening ceremony is held at the newly relocated Customer Service Center at the San Rafael Transit Center. District Board President Janet Reilly, General Manager Denis Mulligan, and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey speak 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 costs $7 plus the amount of transit value loaded to the card. Introduced in the Bay Area in June 2010, Clipper is an all-in-one transit card that keeps track of any passes, discount tickets, ride books, and cash value loaded onto it.

August and October 2012: As the prelude to the ultimate challenge—the 2013 America’s Cup—the America’s Cup World Series sailing event was held in August and October 2012. 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 were encouraged to ride the 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 Board. The policy provides for commercial advertising only along with proprietary advertising that promotes the District’s own services. All advertising that involves religion or politics, as well as advertising that depicts anything violent, illegal, obscene, or defamatory, is excluded.

April 18, 2013: A new third-generation zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus began providing service on select Marin Transit Local Routes and Golden Gate Transit Routes. The Zero Emission Bay Area is a group of five transit agencies: AC Transit, GGT, Santa Clara VTA, SamTrans, and Muni, which are collectively operating 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 United States. Findings from placing the buses into service in various locations are being collected and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Program to help researchers to better understand the status of the technology. The third-generation fuel cell bus features improvements over previous generations, including a redesigned chassis that is 5,000 pounds lighter and 3 inches shorter. Each bus is 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 give the bus a range of 220 to 240 miles, and batteries recharged during braking can provide 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, the work included installation of map cases, informational kiosks, and signposts.

May 24, 2013: As part of the preparations required before the relocation of Golden Gate Transit’s mid-day parking facility in San Francisco to a site located between Third & Fourth, Perry & Stillman Streets In March 2014, the Board authorized proceeding with construction of the final improvements to the site.

August-October 2013: America's Cup fans rode Golden Gate Ferry and added Golden Gate Transit services 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 GGT, replace bus stop signs throughout Marin County. The new signs include route number, destination, operational informatoin for local routes, and a bus stop ID number so customers can call 511 for schedule information.

February 2014: Golden Gate Transit moved its San Francisco bus facility to a permanent locatoin at 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. these colorful posters are reminders to stay safe by being alert and aware of their surroundings. Keep each other safe—Together we are Golden!

June 2014: GGT 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 new service is also a great alternative to Giants fans, since buses stop a short walk from AT&T Park, and for people in San Francisco wanting to experience the beauty of Marin County.

August 2014: GGT customers began enjoying onboard WiFi service. The free service is easy to use and allows customers to check email or surf the Internet while they ride the bus. The District worked for years to provide robust wireless access to its bus riders, and following several unsuccessful attempts due to the unique characteristics of our service area, a comprehensive and reliable solution was found. WiFi service has been a welcome addition to the experience of riding Golden Gate Transit.

November & December 2014: GGT added 25 new Motor Coach Industries (MCI) D4500 commuter coaches to the fleet. They are bus numbers 956-980. The new buses feature an upgraded emissions package and 120-volt outlets for charging personal devices. The buses travelled from the MCI plant in Pembina, North Dakota to their new home in San Rafael.

December 14, 2014: GGT 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 are being used to expand service on Routes 70 and 101.This change benefits customers by providing shorter travel times to/from San Francisco, more frequent weekend service, and less confusion for riders.

January 10-12, 2015: During the 3-day closure of the Golden Gate Bridge to install a moveable median barrier, GGT buses were the only passenger vehicles permitted on the Bridge between San Francisco and the North Bay.

Spring 2015: After a successful 9-month demonstration project, the District increased midday service between the San Francisco Financial District and Central and Southern Marin County. This increased service adds 21 additional trips and converts 14 deadhead trips to passenger trips on GGT Routes 4 and 27. The service provides reverse commute service between San Francisco and Marin County by utilizing existing “deadhead” trips which did not traditionally carry passengers and offers midday, all-day service between Central and Southern Marin County and the San Francisco Financial District.

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 buses and Golden Gate Ferry. The change became effective July 1, 2015.