To celebrate SamTrans’ 40th Anniversary, we’ll be highlighting historical moments from 1976, the first year of the agency’s existence. Beginning in May 2016, the monthly series will examine a corresponding milestone that occurred four decades ago.

August 1976:

SamTrans219-viSuccessfully launching a unified bus service along the Peninsula was all good for the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), but in August 1976, the burgeoning agency was faced with some of the more pressing realities of operating a new transportation system.

Namely, the agency needed some places for its employees to sit and work, and it needed some more buses, pronto. So, one month after beginning service operations, the SamTrans Board of Directors sought to address those practical concerns.

On August 11, the Board of Directors approved a series of contracts worth more than $18,000 to purchase office fixtures for the agency’s headquarters in Burlingame. Those contracts included an agreement with the State of California to provide some basic equipment for the new transportation agency. Additional pacts were made with Kelly Business Furniture and the Metro Décor Corporation, two local organizations that had a history of outfitting businesses with chairs, desks, and other amenities to make the workplace functional.

We’re not sure what the Feng Shui component of the office was in 1976, but we’re guessing that SamTrans officials had more pressing concerns than the harmonizing design of the building.

With some basic office furniture secured, the agency’s board looked to acquire some equipment with a more immediate effect on its customers. SamTrans was hoping to buy 20 additional diesel buses to bolster its growing fleet, but unfortunately, the market climate just wasn’t responsive in August 1976.

After putting out feelers to bus manufactures, the agency received just one feasible bid, and that was only for three vehicles. Desperate to increase capacity, the SamTrans Board of Directors nonetheless approved a $53,550 contract with Eastshore Lines for the purchase of the three buses. Each bus cost $14,000, with an additional $3,850 directed for refurbishing costs. Along with approving the contract, the agency’s board resolved to continue pursuing the purchase of 17 more buses to fill out the initial order request of 20 vehicles.

Boasting an established office space and a few extra buses to serve customers, SamTrans inched ever closer to becoming a fully-fledged transportation agency as the summer of 1976 neared a close.


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