History / Inspiration
From the waterfront to the top of the hills, from Richmond to Fremont, AC Transit gets you there… eventually. The buses might not always be punctual, but these routes are Oakland's original blueprint, tracing the city's growth from frontier outpost to global city. And hey, at least we're not riding MUNI.
The East Bay's oldest transit routes were mapped by a Borax King (aka F.M. Smith). Smith made a fortune mining minerals from the Death Valley floor, then settled in Oakland and became transit and real estate magnate. Smith organized the town's first trolleys into the fabled Key System, whose main routes formed the shape of an old-fashioned key. Three "handle loops" passed through Berkeley, Piedmont and Oakland, with a straight line across the waterfront to the piers, which formed the key's teeth. The streetcars soon covered the whole East Bay, and even had their own lane on the new Bay Bridge. In 1960, the system was sold to AC Transit and became a public agency with its distinct orange and teal buses.