Trisha Shetty (Editor)

AC Transit

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Locale  East Bay
Headquarters  Oakland
Founded  1960
Routes  151
Service type  Transit bus
Stops  5,500
Began operation  1960
Fleet  586
AC Transit httpswwwsamanagecomwpcontentuploads20150
Service area  Western Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Daily ridership  approx. 178,851 ridership per year = approx. 55 million
Operator  Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District
Chief executive  Mike Hursh, General Manager

2009 ac transit bus roadeo bus driver timothy caldwell emeryville

AC Transit (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District) is an Oakland-based public transit agency serving the western portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. AC Transit also operates "Transbay" routes across San Francisco Bay to San Francisco and selected areas in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. AC Transit is constituted as a special district under California law. It is governed by seven elected members (five from geographic wards and two at large). It is not a part of or under the control of Alameda or Contra Costa counties or any local jurisdictions.


Buses operate out of three operating divisions: Emeryville, East Oakland (Seminary), and Hayward. The Operations Control Center is located in Emeryville. The Richmond operating division closed in 2011. The District is the public successor to the privately owned Key System.

2009 ac transit bus roadeo joe tating takes on the course

Service area

The District encompasses the following cities and unincorporated areas: Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, Richmond, San Leandro, Alameda, Castro Valley, Newark, San Pablo, El Cerrito, San Lorenzo, Ashland, Albany, Cherryland, El Sobrante, Piedmont, Fairview, Emeryville, Kensington, and East Richmond Heights. The District's bus lines also serve parts of some other East Bay communities, including Milpitas, Pinole, and Union City.

AC Transit serves many colleges and universities including the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; California State University, East Bay; Chabot College; Holy Names University; Peralta Colleges (Laney College, College of Alameda, Berkeley City College, and Merritt College), Contra Costa College; Ohlone College; Northwestern Polytechnic University; and Mills College.

Most routes connect with regional train service, primarily BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), in addition to ACE and Amtrak, including (among other trains) the Capitol Corridor. AC Transit routes also connect with several other regional transit services, including Union City Transit, SamTrans, WestCAT, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), Golden Gate Transit, the Alameda-Oakland Ferry, the Harbor Bay Ferry, Emery Go Round, SolTrans and FAST.

While most AC Transit service consists of local lines throughout the East Bay, the District also provides many Transbay lines. Most of these run across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge to connect communities as distant as El Sobrante and Newark with San Francisco's Transbay Terminal (formerly the terminus of the Key System). Bus service is also provided across the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges to the south.


AC Transit's primary hubs include BART stations, major shopping centers, and points of interest, which are spread throughout the East Bay. Most routes serve and/or terminate at BART stations, providing convenience for transit users. The hubs include:

Fares and transfer policies

See also AC Transit's page on fares and passes or AC Transit's page on bus fares.

On July 1, 2014, AC Transit introduced a Day Pass, designed for customers taking more than two local buses in a day. The pass is good for unlimited rides on local routes from 3:01 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. and cost $5.00 ($2.50 for senior, youth, and disabled). Customers can obtain a Day Pass in one of two ways:

  • Using Clipper: Customers keep cash value on their card. Once fares equalling the Day Pass price have been deducted (always on the third ride), the Day Pass automatically activates. On subsequent rides, the card is tagged but no additional fare is deducted.
  • On-Board: Customers deposit the full amount in the farebox and request a Day Pass from the bus operator. On subsequent rides, the pass is swiped at the farebox.
  • AC Transit fares are structured to promote the use of Clipper. Not only are local bus rides cheaper, but certain interagency transfers and day passes are easier to obtain and handle when using a Clipper card. Monthly passes are only available on Clipper.

    Inter-Agency Transfers

    Local BART-to-bus transfer: $0.25 cash discount to and from BART with paper transfer issued at BART. Applied as $0.50 Clipper discount on bus trip away from BART only.

    To transfer from AC Transit to another bus agency without Clipper, ask your AC Transit bus driver for an “Inter-Agency Voucher”. To transfer from another bus agency to AC Transit without Clipper, ask the other bus driver for a transfer.


  • All fares are in USD. Fares effective 1 July 2014. Children under 5 ride free.
  • 1 Issued upon request when full price is paid. Valid for unlimited local rides from time issued until 3:00 AM.
  • 2 Automatically applied on the third trip. Valid for unlimited local rides from time activated until 3:00 AM.
  • 3 Transbay-to-local transfer free and only available when using Clipper. Automatically applied on second bus when boarded within two hours. Also applies to local-to-Transbay transfer.
  • 4 Senior & Disabled local monthly pass available on Clipper (Senior and RTC Discount cards) or as a sticker to affix on RTC Discount cards.
  • Timeline

    Voters created the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) in 1956 and subsequently approved a $16,500,000 bond issue in 1959 enabling the District to buy out the failing privately owned Key System Transit Lines. In October 1960, AC Transit’s service began. The new District built up the bus fleet with 250 new “transit liner” buses, extended service into new neighborhoods, created an intercity express bus network, and increased Bay Bridge bus service.

    In 2003, the District introduced a San Mateo-Hayward Bridge route. Designated as Line M, the service connected the BART stations of Castro Valley and Hayward with Foster City and San Mateo's Hillsdale Caltrain station. A second San Mateo-Hayward Bridge route, Line MA, was added in 2006 and discontinued in 2007. (The M replaced the SamTrans 90E, which had been canceled in 1999.)

    In 2003, a new "rapid bus" line operating on San Pablo Avenue was introduced. Designated as Line 72R (or San Pablo Rapid), the service connected Oakland with Richmond and operated at faster speeds than regular local service due to wide stop spacing and signal priority treatments.

    In 2004, the District began service on Line U across the Dumbarton Bridge, connecting Stanford University with ACE and BART trains in Fremont. As part of a consortium of transit agencies including AC Transit, BART, SamTrans, Union City Transit, and VTA), the District already operated Dumbarton Express bus service across the Dumbarton Bridge.

    Beginning 10 December 2005, AC Transit began participating in the regional All Nighter network, providing 24-hour bus service throughout its service area to supplement BART service, which does not operate during owl hours. AC Transit had provided 24-hour service on many of its trunk lines prior to this date, except in the late 1990s due to budget limitations.

    On 30 July 2007, AC Transit announced that it had entered into a 25-year partnership with SunPower, MMA Renewable Ventures, and PG&E to install solar energy systems at its facilities in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, improve local air quality, and save money on energy costs that could be used instead to spend on transit service.

    In 2008, AC Transit sponsored the world's largest chalk drawing at the old Alameda Naval Base and provided free transportation for children to the site.

    On 28 March 2010, several major service changes were implemented to reduce a severe budget shortfall. Changes included reduced service on local and Transbay lines, elimination of unproductive routes, splitting of the 51 into two sections, and the introduction of limited-stop line 58L.

    Starting in February 2011, all buses on Line 376 were being escorted by a marked Contra Costa County Sheriff's patrol vehicle through the unincorporated community of North Richmond. Line 376 provides late-night service through North Richmond and the nearby cities of Richmond, San Pablo, and Pinole. The escorts were introduced to improve the safety of the service, which had five serious incidents between 5 January and 9 February.

    On December 13, 2013, AC Transit adopted a new fare policy that brought changes to the transit system July 2014, including a new day pass that is in line with other transit agencies including VTA and SamTrans. The policy is also designed to speed boarding and help keep buses on schedule, provide greater convenience and value for customers, and encourage more customers to switch to Clipper

    Rapid Bus and Bus Rapid Transit

    A rapid bus line was introduced on San Pablo Avenue on 23 June 2003. Designated as Line 72R (or San Pablo Rapid), it operates from 6 am to 7 pm at 12-minute intervals throughout the day. Bus stops are spaced 2/3-mile apart on average, running between Jack London Square in Oakland and Contra Costa College in San Pablo, and buses receive signal priority at several intersections. The line does not have scheduled timepoints en route, and instead buses travel along the route as fast as traffic allows.

    A second rapid bus line was introduced on 24 June 2007. Line 1R (or International Rapid) operated on Telegraph Avenue, International Blvd. and East 14th Street between Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro on weekdays. Weekend and holiday service operated between Oakland and San Leandro only.

    The Line 1R corridor has been identified for replacement by a bus rapid transit line. AC Transit’s East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project will operate between downtown Oakland and San Leandro. Approved in 2012 by both cities, BRT will feature level boarding, pre-paid ticketing, and dedicated transit lanes along much of the corridor. The project is funded by Alameda County Measure B, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the State of California and the Federal Transit Administration. Its groundbreaking was in August 2016, with service slated to launch in 2017. During this time, Line 1R service was suspended.

    Bus fleet

    AC Transit continued using the GM "old-look" transit buses of its predecessor, the Key System, when service first began. AC Transit soon ordered GM New Look buses and operated a mixed fleet throughout the 1960s. AC Transit pioneered the use of an articulated bus in the mid-1960s, operating the experimental GM XMC 77 bus primarily on Transbay service.

    AC Transit continued to purchase GM New Look buses through the early 1970s and also began purchasing Flxible New Look buses. No more GM or Flxible buses were purchased by the late 1970s, instead acquiring buses from Flyer, Neoplan, and Gillig through the 1980s. AC Transit also purchased buses from NABI in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, AC Transit purchased a fleet of 45-foot, over-the-road coaches from Motor Coach Industries, primarily for Transbay service.

    In 2003, AC Transit began purchasing low-floor buses from Van Hool. More recently, it also purchased new, custom-designed 30-foot buses from Van Hool.

    Starting in 2003, AC Transit added satellite tracking units on all vehicles. The GPS tracking units fix the position of the vehicle, and a private radio network sends updates to headquarters every 3 to 16 minutes. Vehicle locations on selected lines can be viewed from AC Transit's NextBus passenger information system.

    AC Transit has developed the most comprehensive fuel cell bus program in the United States. Three hydrogen-powered buses, based on the Van Hool A330, operated in revenue service from 2006 to 2010. AC Transit began taking delivery of 12 new, third-generation fuel cell buses based on the Van Hool A300L in 2011.

    In March 2013, AC Transit introduced the first of 65 new 40-foot Gillig buses, manufactured in Hayward, California. In August of the same year, AC Transit placed the first of 23 New Flyer 60-foot articulated buses into service to handle lines with the heaviest passenger loads. The New Flyer coaches are low-floor, seat 52 people (with additional room for standees), and are manufactured in the USA. New low-floor commuter buses were introduced to the fleet in November 2013. The 40-foot Gillig Transbay-branded buses feature high-back cushioned seats, free wi-fi, and overhead racks. Throughout the year, AC Transit gradually installed LED signs atop the "Stop Requested" lights to display the name of the next stop and periodic announcements. The commuter Gillig buses are the first to feature an integrated version of these signs that replace the "Stop Requested" lights.

    In early 2014, AC Transit received another set of new 40-foot Gillig buses (68), also manufactured in Hayward. These buses feature an improved seating layout and the integrated next-stop LED sign from the commuter model, but are generally very similar to the 2013 Gillig buses. In early 2016, another new batch of Gillig 40-foot buses arrived, these are identical to the 2014 models except that they feature front bike racks with capacity for an additional bike (up to three bikes). These racks are also being retrofitted onto older buses as well. Later that year, AC Transit took delivery of yet another set of 40-foot Gillig buses, this time 23 diesel-electric hybrid buses.

    As part of the AC Go program, AC Transit is purchasing 29 articulated 60-foot buses, 10 double-deck buses, and 10 standard 40-foot buses for introduction by late 2017. To continue their investment in alternative energy options, AC Transit is also introducing 10 New Flyer fuel cell buses and 5 New Flyer battery electric buses by early 2018.

    All AC Transit buses are wheelchair accessible and have front-mounted bicycle racks.

    Some older AC Transit buses are not air-conditioned. However, in 2007 the District's board of directors voted to purchase new buses equipped with air conditioning. Generally, the recent (2013 and later) models of Gillig and New Flyer vehicles and the older large MCI buses feature air conditioning, while the NABI and most Van Hool buses do not. (Some Van Hool buses in the 1200 and 5100 ranges have air conditioning; these can be distinguished by the lack of openable windows.)


    AC Transit is funded with a mix of federal, state, and local government subsidies, as well as passenger fares.

    In March 2004, voters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area approved Regional Measure 2, which funds regional transportation capital and operating programs through a US$1.00 surcharge on State-owned bridges operated by the BATA. (The Golden Gate Bridge is owned and operated by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.)

    In November 2004, voters approved Measure BB, which increased the parcel tax from US $24 to US$48 annually for 10 years beginning 1 July 2005, to help fund AC Transit services.

    In April 2005, a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the Metropolitan Transportation Commission alleging that it discriminates against AC Transit's primarily minority riders by giving AC Transit disproportionately less money than BART and Caltrain. AC Transit is not party to the lawsuit, and the court sided with MTC in 2009.

    In November 2008, voters approved Measure VV, which increased the parcel tax by US$48 annually for 10 years beginning 1 July 2009, to help fund AC Transit services. Measure VV also extended the US$48 parcel tax approved under Measure BB so a total US$96 annual tax is effective through 30 June 2019.

    Internet access

    AC Transit also offers wireless internet on many buses that serve Transbay lines. These buses can be distinguished by their all-green livery, padded "commuter" seats, and Wi-Fi logos near the front entrance door and inside the bus.


    AC Transit Wikipedia

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