Golden Gate Transits Humphrey the Whale Bus Announces its Retirement on eBay
Bidding Starts June 19, 2004


Golden Gate Transits (GGT) now famous Humphrey the Whale Bus has announced his retirement after being on the road since early 1993. GGT is looking for a new and happy home for Humphrey through eBay where the bidding begins on Saturday, June 19, 2004. This weekend (June 19 and 20) the bus can be viewed at the Marin Art Festival at Lagoon Park, Civic Center, San Rafael between 10 am and 6 pm. The eBay bidding location may be accessed through the GGT website at or directly through eBay.

Conceived as an innovative way to encourage the use of public transit, world renowned Marin County environmental artist George Sumner turned one of GGTs 40-foot buses into a canvas by hand-painting, in oils, a life-size portrait of the famous wayward humpback whale "Humphrey" who wandered the San Francisco Bay between 1985 and 1990. Humphrey is joined by his Bottlenose Dolphin friends who frolic playfully on the front and back of the bus. Sumner donated all of the materials and over 100 hours of his time to create this environmental message. With Humphreys departure, Sumner is now in the process of developing another environmental wonder for GGT.

Traveling over 500,000 miles and delivering well over one million smiles, Humphrey the Whale Bus hit the road as a public awareness campaign asking Marin and Sonoma residents to become part of the "Pollution Solution" by riding GGT. On behalf of GGT, Sumners wife Donnalei developed an educational story telling program for students and traveled with Humphrey to numerous schools in Marin and Sonoma. In addition, Humphrey made guest appearances at fairs and parades underscoring the important role of public transit and the environment. Humphrey was so well received that the bus was never converted back to the standard GGT exterior look.

"The public has the opportunity to enjoy one of nature's greatest spectacles, the Humpback Whale, and ride public transportation at the same time," stated Susan Chiaroni, GGT Manager. "This was a great team effort between public transit and a dedicated local artist. We are sorry to see Humphrey go, but the time has come.

In 1982, GGT initiated a Bus Replacement Program whereby older buses are retired from the fleet, sold as surplus, and replaced with new, modern buses that are paid for predominantly with federal funds. Buses are generally retired after 10 to 12 years on the road.

The real Humphrey the humpback whale was first rescued in 1985 and five years later, he returned. Since leaving the San Francisco Bay in 1990, Humphrey was spotted at the Farallone Islands in 1991.