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Transit Stories: Golden Gate Transit – 2

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Golden Gate Transit primarily operates inter-county bus services connecting four counties, but, their success comes not from how many communities it serves. It is their drivers and how they treat their passengers that make the difference.

We’ve all heard of the budget crisis in the federal, state, and local levels. We’ve seen funding cuts for education, public transportation, health, and many other sectors, all of which affect us in our day-to-day living. But, amidst reduced funding for public transportation, what really matters now is not just how much a transit agency receives from the government and other sources; it is how they use the money to retain drivers and keep key operations running.

Golden Gate Transit prides itself with its courteous, helpful drivers who give a helping hand to both new and long-term commuters, as well as well-maintained and comfortable buses, and its overall commitment to help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by operating a fleet of environmentally-friendly buses–several of them hybrids–that allow commuters an alternative to driving. It also prides itself with the ability to carry more bicycles than many other bus companies in the Bay Area: while other companies allow 2 bikes on board (using the front-mounted racks), Golden Gate Transit allows up to 3 in most of its regular transit buses (commuter MCI coaches, however, only allow 2 in the under-storage compartment), allowing more bikers to take their bikes to transit.


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Aside from ordering several hybrid buses that run on a combination of ultra-low sulfur diesel and electricity powered by batteries (see sample picture¬†below), Golden Gate Transit has also released several themed buses, many of which present environmental themes like the Whale Bus on the Orion V bus (no. 1501), hand-painted by a Bay Area-renowned painter, Mark Sumner, with a message “To live on the land, we must learn from the sea”. For more of the specialty-themed buses aside from the image on the left, see here.

And, with the agency’s continued commitment to providing high-quality service to its patrons, Golden Gate Transit uses high-back seats on all of its Orion, TMC, and MCI coaches (totaling to 174 coaches out of 201 buses), with all of them having baggage racks, reading lights, and on eight of its MCI coaches, free WiFi internet. All of the buses are air-conditioned (even the hybrid buses), and it provides a constant headway for most of its basic and commuter routes (as consistent as every 5-10 minutes during the peak periods). However, many of the local services (operated by Marin Transit) come by less frequently throughout the day, resulting to a “hit-or-miss” situation for many riders. The busiest local trips see 30-minute headways throughout the day or during peak periods, while other routes come by hourly, making the service unequal for some riders. However, the agency considers both passenger loads and the time of day to determine the amount of service needed for each route.


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The best thing Golden Gate Transit has, in my opinion, is how the drivers treat their passengers. Compared to larger agencies like Muni or AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit strives to provide excellent service by greeting passengers and helping them find their way. Along with that, many drivers seem to be the most professional I’ve ever dealt with because not only they announce the stops using their own voice (unlike automated in other agencies), but also they are willing to listen to any passenger concerns and allow them to share stories to keep them going with their day. I personally have several friends in the agency, and it seems like I would like to stick around with them more often than drivers from other agencies. For me, Golden Gate Transit is an outstanding bus company that puts professionalism in practice, along with its strong commitment to help the environment in more ways than one. And my overall assessment for the agency: I give them an A rating for quality and overall service.

Part 3 tomorrow will focus on issues facing the agency, as well as my recommendations on how to further improve the overall service it already provides for Marin County residents.


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