Posted December 27, 2011

Golden Gate Transit Turns 40 on January 1, 2012

Bus Service Thrives as a Traffic Management Solution Assisting in
Relieving Traffic Congestion on the Golden Gate Bridge

By the 1960s, traffic congestion on the Golden Gate Bridge had reached an all time high as thousands of commuters travelled to jobs in San Francisco. For perspective, by 1967, 28.3 million vehicles crossed the span, up from 3.3 million in 1938. Public and political pressure was mounting throughout the Bay Area for expansion of existing facilities or the creation of new transportation facilities. Concepts ranged from building new bridges, to the construction of a tube beneath the Bay, to a lower deck on the Golden Gate Bridge.

In spite of support for a lower deck on the Golden Gate, particularly among frustrated commuters, on November 24, 1967, the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Board of Directors voted to “not contract for further studies or planning which look toward construction of a second deck” but to instead plan and launch a public mass transit system as a more immediate and cost effective traffic management solution.

With the last of the original Golden Gate Bridge construction bonds due to be retired on June 30, 1971 and $22.8 million in toll reserves, the District was positioned to develop a public mass transit system as a traffic management solution for the congestion on the Bridge.

On November 10, 1969, AB 584 authorized the District to develop a mass transportation program for the Highway 101/Golden Gate Corridor. The word “Transportation” was added to the District’s name.
To subsidize the operating costs of the new bus and ferry systems, as all public transit in the United States is subsidized, Golden Gate Bridge tolls that would be used.

The first step into the public transit realm came with the launch of Golden Gate Ferry service between Sausalito and San Francisco on August 15, 1970. On January 1, 1972, Golden Gate Transit bus service between Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco counties began and, in 1976, ferry service began between Larkspur and San Francisco.
The capital cost the required bus and ferry infrastructure (buses, vessels, maintenance shops, terminals, etc.) was financed by a combination of federal grants from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) and District toll reserves. For example, UMTA funded $14.3 million of the $20 million required to purchase the buses and construct bus maintenance and storage facilities in San Rafael, Novato and Santa Rosa. District toll reserves met the $5.7 million remaining balance.

Since its humble beginning in a muddy lot in San Rafael, GGT has become an integral part of life in the counties it serves and continues to be a major contributor to the relief of traffic congestion in the Highway 101/Golden Gate Corridor.

Historic New Look Bus
New Look Bus & MCI with Bridge
MCI with Bridge
Orion in Sausalito
SRTC and buses
GGT Fleet
2010 MCI

Golden Gate Transit Timeline:
Golden Gate Transit Ridership Stats:
Golden Gate Transit Buses – Photos of the Fleet