A ‘Golden Ticket’ for Unitrans’ 100 Millionth Rider

Transit System Celebrates Milestone and Anniversary

Gabriela Jimenez holds golden ticket near red Unitrans bus.
Gabriela Jimenez was Unitrans’ 100 millionth rider, and received a lifetime pass to the transit system as part of a prize pack. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Unitrans’ 100 millionth rider was “just trying to go to class” when she was notified she had helped the transit system reach a major milestone.

Gabriela Jimenez, a third-year political science major, was riding the Q line Wednesday (Feb. 28) to a class on public opinion when she was randomly chosen as the joint ASUCD-city bus system’s 100 millionth rider. She received a prize bag at a ceremony at the Memorial Union Bus Terminal that included gift certificates, a pizza party and a “golden ticket” good for a lifetime pass to ride Unitrans.

“This is crazy — I’m not leaving Davis,” she said.

Jimenez, who said she rides Unitrans every day, praised the system for its usefulness to students.

“I don’t have any other form of transportation,” she said.

Marching band performs near double-decker Unitrans bus.
The UC Davis Marching Band was part of last week’s festivities in honor of Unitrans. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
Silver balloons spell "100M" near red Unitrans bus.
Balloons spell out the key number: 100 million riders for Unitrans since its founding in 1968. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Jeff Flynn, Unitrans’ general manager and one of the few employees who is not a student, said the system has enthusiastic backers both on campus and in the wider Davis community.

“This shows how strong the university and city support is for what started with two buses and now has almost 50 buses,” Flynn said of the event, which included a performance from the UC Davis Marching Band and long lines for giveaways.


Driver Miriam Lopez-Hernandez, a second-year Chicana/o studies major, praised Unitrans as a place to work.

“It’s the friendliest community to be in,” she said.

Lopez-Hernandez also noted the community support, including many attendees at last week’s event who were not students.

That included Mike and Shermain Hardesty, who worked for Unitrans in the 1970s. They recalled frequent bus breakdowns and said one student even used his father’s employee tickets on Trans World Airlines to fly to London for spare parts for Unitrans’ double-decker buses.

Mike Hardesty was an undergraduate when Unitrans was formed in 1968 and later worked as a driver and operations manager.

“We never had a facility quite like this,” he said, gesturing to the Memorial Union Bus Terminal. “We salute the students and university for supporting this.”

By the numbers

  • 2: The number of routes and former London Transport double-decker buses in operation when Unitrans launched on Feb. 28, 1968.
  • 18: The current number of Unitrans routes. It has 48 buses.
  • 4: Unitrans will add four more electric buses to its fleet this fall, making for a total of 14 electric buses.
  • 225: The approximate number of student employees at Unitrans — most of them drivers.
  • 20,000: The number of riders Unitrans is projected to carry each weekday during this academic year. It transported 3 million riders last year.

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Cody Kitaura is the editor of Dateline UC Davis and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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