Skip to main content

AC Transit Turns 60!

AC Transit Turns 60!

illustration of vintage buses for 60th anniversary

Although AC Transit came into being on October 1, 1960, our transit system has roots that stretch all the way back to 1903. After the formal launch ceremony (complete with a dedication of the fleet by breaking a bottle of champagne over a bus bumper), AC Transit ended the private ownership of transit in the East Bay and became the first public agency to serve the district.

vintage actransit logo


When AC Transit took over operations from the privately-held Key System, we adopted a memorable orange oval logo with a turquoise “wing” whose style and colors were characteristic the 60s era. AC Transit acquired the buses formerly belonging to the Key System, which were modernized and repainted to feature this new color scheme that many fondly remember. Bus tokens were created to match the iconic logo.

There are so many milestones and memories associated with our history. Below are just a few. Share your own memories with us using this form and read what other people have been saying here.

1960 The launch of AC Transit service to the community gets extensive coverage in the Oakland Tribune.
1960Bus Operators are paid $2.40 per hour.
1964The “Shop-a-Round” pass is launched to encourage shopping in the central Oakland business district.
1964A driving competition (called Bus-o-Rama) is begun and includes an obstacle course to test Operators’ skills. The competition continues to this day, but is now called the Roadeo.
1968The classic Dustin Hoffman film “The Graduate” uses an AC Transit bus, but its recognizable paint scheme only momentarily ends up in the final cut of the film.
1970An Oakland Tribune editorial story commemorating the 10th anniversary of AC Transit asserts that “Without AC Transit service, East Bay auto traffic perhaps would be at a virtual standstill” and that too many personal vehicles can “poison the air” with exhaust fumes.
1971AC Transit’s “bicycle bus” goes into service to carry cyclists to San Francisco. Responding to many requests, half the seats were removed and bicycle racks were installed onboard.
1971Demonstration of an electric bus (called “Electrobus”) is considered by the Board of Directors. Early vehicles of this type had a poor range per charge, so they were not purchased. But zero-emission vehicles were considered for AC Transit service 49 years ago — 31 years before they were eventually adopted.
1979AC Transit issues its first monthly pass.
1980The first busses are equipped with wheelchair lifts.
1989When the Loma Prieta earthquake strikes, Operator Douglas Burghardt is amazingly able to come to a safe stop just feet from the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge, saving himself and 35 passengers onboard. After taking his passengers to a safer section of the span, heroic Mr. Burghardt returns to help pull motorists from their cars that where dangling over the San Francisco Bay.
1994AC Transit is included in MC Hammer’s “Pumps and a Bump” video.
2002AC Transit reveals its new logo and color scheme.
2002Our first hydrogen fueling station is commissioned at the Richmond Division. At the time, we were only running a single hydrogen-fueled prototype bus.
2003The first line of Rapid service (72R) is launched. Bus stops are spaced more widely apart and traffic signals are prioritized for the bus to expedite trips.
2007Solar panels begin to be installed on our facilities to offset energy use.
2013AC Transit is given the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the highest environmental honor in the state of California.
2017A bus painted like AC Transit (although it wasn’t an authentic AC Transit bus) was shown in the blockbuster film “Black Panther.” We’re assuming that local audiences cheered in theaters when they saw it onscreen.
2019AC Transit introduces zero emission battery electric buses into its fleet.
2020Tempo bus rapid transit service is launched featuring infrastructure improvements and safety upgrades to the area while expediting trips from downtown Oakland to San Leandro and everywhere in-between.

AC Transit is much more than just a transit provider. It is an integral part of the community that unites the East Bay. There is a long history of memories and inspiration associated with AC Transit. Nearly everyone who grew up in the East Bay has a fond memory or a story about us. Do you? Did you take AC Transit with your grandparents? …to school? …to your first job? …on a date? Did you witness a good deed by a member of the AC Transit team? Use this form or tag #actransit on social media channels to share your memories with us! If we use your submission, we have some limited-edition 60th anniversary items to share with you.

Por favor, use este formulario para compartir sus felices recuerdos sobre AC Transit.

请使用此表格分享您对 AC Transit 的快乐回忆。
Special thanks to AC Transit employee and transit enthusiast Shirley Sachsen.

There are so many milestones and memories associated with our history. Below are just a few. Share your own memories with us using this form, and read what other people have been saying here.