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Unitrans

Unitrans

Unitrans is the name for the transit system which operates in Davis, California. It takes its name from an abbreviation of the words "University Transport". Excepting several managerial and maintenance positions, Unitrans is managed and operated entirely by students of the University of California, Davis who usually work part-time while attending school. The system is well known throughout the area for its use of several distinctive ex-London Transport double decker buses, as well as its fleet of modern natural gas single-decks. Ridership exceeds 3 million passenger-trips per year on 16 weekday and 4 Saturday routes. Current (2007) fares are $1.00 for the general public and included in student fees for undergraduate University attendees. Unitrans is one of only four transit systems in the United States to operate double deck buses in regular (non-sightseeing) service (the others being The Deuce in Las Vegas, Nevada, Antelope Valley Transit Authority in Lancaster/Palmdale, California, and Community Transit in Snohomish County, Washington) and has one of the best safety records of any public transit system in the US.

History

In the late 1960s, members of the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis (ASUCD) realized the need for a transit system to transport students between the City of Davis and the University campus. In the spring of 1966, providing a transportation system became an ASUCD presidential promise. Newly elected in the fall, the President helped start experimental service in October 1966. This service was initially run using a private charter service. The estimated cost at the time was $2000/quarter. The service ran for several months, but ASUCD officials decided that the service needed to be changed. These students approached Davis' then-mayor Maynard Skinner and appealed for support both politically and financially. With the mayor's endorsement, the University Transport System, or Unitrans, began to take shape.

To be unique, get the system noticed, and encourage ridership, Unitrans made arrangements to purchase two former London Transport double-decker buses in the middle part of 1967 and use them on "East" and "West" perimeter routes in Davis. According to the March 5, 1968 edition of The California Aggie newspaper, the two RTL type double-decker buses cost $3500 each, and were shipped to San Francisco for an additional $1000. After being modified with features like clearance lights and larger left side mirrors, service began in February of 1968. Upon its retirement in 2007, RTL1014 was the oldest functioning example of its type in the world still operating in revenue service on a regular basis. These first two lines operated from what is now a parking lot behind Young Hall, until 1970 when expanded service forced the terminal to move to its current location near Hickey Gym. Starting in the late 1960s, Unitrans also began supplementing its fleet with second-hand single-deck buses, starting with several General Motors "old-look" buses ranging in length from 35 to 37¾ feet.

In 1972 the service dropped its remaining full-time drivers, and started operating with a full staff of part-time student drivers. Since then Unitrans has remained a student operated organization, employing students as drivers, conductors, supervisors, driver trainers, maintenance shop assistants, bus washers and office clerks. Career positions, the only non-student positions at Unitrans, currently include General and Assistant General Manager, Maintenance Shop Manager, Maintenance Shop Mechanics, and the Safety and Training Supervisor.

Through the 1970s Unitrans added eight former London Transport RT type double-deck buses, and in the early 1980s Unitrans added two Daimler Fleetline double-deck buses that had previously operated in Yorkshire, a county in northern England. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the addition of a 40-foot and a number of 35-foot General Motors New Look buses. In 1982 Unitrans purchases its first all new, never before used, buses when it purchased five 35-foot Gillig Phantoms from the manufacturer in Hayward, California. Two RT type double-decker buses were retired in the early 1980’s, and by this time the fleet of single-deck buses outnumbered the double-deckers.

With an increasing demand for service fueled by the expanding size of the University and the City of Davis, Unitrans continued to gear up for larger passenger loads by adding more buses and more routes through the City of Davis. The mid-1980s saw the purchase of yet more previously owned single-deck buses: two more 35-foot GM "old-look" buses from the Sacramento Regional Transit District (affectionately nicknamed "Prison Buses"), another 40-foot GM New Look bus, and several more 35-foot GM New Look buses (at least one of which was also from Sacramento). In the late 1980s, the Unitrans fleet expanded again with the purchase of four 40-foot and five 35-foot Flxible New Look buses from the Sacramento Regional Transit District, and eight 35-foot GM New Look buses from the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. Three new 30-foot Gillig Phantoms were provided by UCD's Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) for the intracampus and UCD Medical Center shuttle to be operated by Unitrans drivers (this service is now run by the Medical Center).

Greater ridership in the 1980s prompted the writing and passing of a student referendum that added a $13 fee to registration costs to create the fare-less system. Students who paid their registration fees could ride the bus by simply showing their registration card with a valid registration sticker, or board for a cash fare of $0.50. This referendum made Unitrans an even more convenient method of transportation for students attending UC Davis.

The 1990s saw Unitrans operating 13 routes, with yearly ridership expected to top 2 million in fiscal year 1997-98. The addition of 15 brand new natural gas powered Orion Mark V buses from Oriskany, New York allowed Unitrans to modernize and clean up by retiring the Flxible fleet and portions of the GM fleet. Around the same time two 40-foot Gillig Phantoms purchased from Yolobus were re-born as Unitrans buses (and yet two more were purchased for Yolobus in 2001 and 2005).

In the late 1990s, the remainder of the GM fleet was retired, as were the two Daimlers and RTL1194, one of the first two double-deck buses purchased by Unitrans (although it hadn’t operated in some time). One of the RT’s that was also no longer in service by this time was ultimately sold in 2002.

In 2000 the Unitrans maintenance shop completed its retrofit of RT2819 to use a brand-new John Deere natural-gas powered engine. This bus is believed to be the only one of its type in the world to be powered by such an engine.

In 2001, Unitrans purchased 12 new natural gas powered Blue Bird Xcel 102 buses. Working with the University of California, Davis' Institute of Transportation Studies, one of the Blue Birds was slated to operate on a Hydrogen/CNG fuel blend, and was retired from service to begin work on the conversion. This bus was eventually introduced on April 20, 2004 when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a visit to the campus as part of a push for the Hydrogen highway project.

2003 saw the addition of five new Mark VII 40-foot buses from Orion. These buses were purchased in coordination with Sacramento Regional Transit, and featured a low floor design, intended to make loading wheelchairs easier on the driver and the passengers.

In 2006-2007, Unitrans added eight new Orion Mark V 40-foot buses (4171-4178) to its fleet, returning to the high-floor design. This decision was made due to lower prices, fleet standardization, and availability of buses.

Future

For the future, Unitrans intends to retire several of the remaining diesel buses, moving towards its goal of an all-CNG fleet by the end of 2007. In spring 2006 Unitrans placed another order of 10 more Orion Mark V 40-foot (12 m) buses, and expected to receive them within 12-18 months. Unitrans is also considering purchasing two Alexander Dennis Enviro500 buses, in an attempt to accommodate the high passenger loads while reducing the demand on drivers. These buses would be powered by clean diesel engines, which produce the same levels of emissions as the compressed natural gas, which powers the modern fleet. These two buses are not intended to replace the antique double-deck buses, but to complement them and accommodate the high passenger loads that Unitrans experiences on a daily basis.

On May 12th, 2008 construction began on the new Unitrans Silo Terminal. As of the first week the trees were cleared and the ground breaking began. This project should be completed by the end of the summer before the UC Davis school year begins again in late September. The new structure will reside on the south side of Haring Hall over the existing Lot 29, extending to the semi-circle driveway attached to the southwest side of the building. Improvements such as a covered waiting area, a new sidewalk along Hutchison Drive, and dedicated bus bays are in store for the allotted $1.4 million.

Bus fleet

Double-deck buses

Bus no. Manufacturer Model Date built Status
RLH21 AEC/Weymann RLH (Regent III) October, 1952 Retired & sold
RLH34 AEC/Weymann RLH (Regent III) October, 1952 Retired & sold
RT742 AEC/Saunders RT (Regent III) July, 1948 Being re-engined
RTL1014 Leyland/Park Royal RTL (Titan PD 2/1) 1950 Retired
RTL1194 Leyland/Park Royal RTL (Titan PD 2/1) 1950 Retired & sold
RT1235 AEC/Park Royal RT (Regent III) July, 1949 Being restored & re-engined
RT1523 AEC/Weymann RT (Regent III) July, 1949 Retired & sold
RT2819 AEC/Park Royal RT (Regent III) 1952 Active
RT3123 AEC/Saunders RT (Regent III) 1950 Active
RT3572 AEC/Weymann RT (Regent III) 1951 Retired & sold
RT3889 AEC/Weymann RT (Regent III) 1951 Retired & sold
RT4735 AEC/Weymann RT (Regent III) 1954 Active
6773 Daimler/Roe CRG6LX Fleetline May, 1969 Retired & sold
6774 Daimler/Roe CRG6LX Fleetline May, 1969 Retired & sold

First generation single-deck buses (1960s - 1980s)

Bus no. Manufacturer Model Date built Status
428 General Motors TDH-4507 "old-look" 1946-1948 Retired & sold
2960 General Motors TDH-4801 "old-look" 1953-1958 Retired & sold
General Motors "old-look" Retired & sold
General Motors "old-look" Retired & sold
General Motors "old-look" Retired & sold

Second generation single-deck buses (1970s - 1990s)

Bus no. Manufacturer Model Date built Status
3901 Gillig Phantom 1982 Retired & Sold
3902 Gillig Phantom 1982 Active
3903 Gillig Phantom 1982 Retired & Sold
3904 Gillig Phantom 1982 Retired & Sold
3905 Gillig Phantom 1982 Active
4507 General Motors TDH-4512 "old-look" October, 1958 Retired & sold
4508 General Motors TDH-4512 "old-look" 1958 Retired & sold
4509 General Motors TDH-4517 New-Look June, 1961 Retired & sold
4510 General Motors TDH-4517 New-Look 1959 Retired & sold
5311 General Motors TDH-5303 New-Look 1966 Retired & sold
5312 General Motors TDH-5301 New-Look 1961 Retired & sold
4514 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look 1963-1967 Retired & sold
4515 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look 1963-1967 Retired & sold
4916 Flxible 111CC-D6-1 New-Look 1973 Retired & sold
4917 Flxible 111CC-D6-1 New-Look 1973 Retired & sold
4918 Flxible 111CC-D6-1 New-Look 1973 Retired & sold
4919 Flxible 111CC-D6-1 New-Look 1973 Retired & sold
2820 Gillig Phantom 1988 Transferred to UCDMC
2821 Gillig Phantom 1988 Active
2822 Gillig Phantom 1988 Active
4123 Flxible 45102-8-1 New-Look 1975 Retired & sold
4124 Flxible 45102-8-1 New-Look 1975 Retired & sold
4125 Flxible 45102-8-1 New-Look 1975 Retired & sold
4126 Flxible 45102-8-1 New-Look 1975 Retired & sold
4127 Flxible 45102-8-1 New-Look 1975 Retired & sold
4528 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4529 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4530 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4531 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4532 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4533 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4534 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold
4535 General Motors TDH-4519 New-Look December, 1967 Retired & sold

Third generation single-deck buses (1990s - 2000s)

Bus no. Manufacturer Model Date built Status
4615 Gillig Phantom 1985 Active
4616 Gillig Phantom 1985 Active
4617 Gillig Phantom 1985 Training bus
4618 Gillig Phantom 1985 Training bus
3536 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3537 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3538 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3539 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3540 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3541 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
3542 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4343 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4344 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4345 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4346 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4347 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4348 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4349 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
4350 Orion Orion V 1996 Active
2051 Ford/Eldorado National Aerotech 240 1999 Active
3852 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3853 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3854 Blue Bird/Collier Technologies Xcel 102 2001 Active
3855 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3856 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3857 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3858 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3859 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3860 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
3861 Blue Bird Xcel 102 2001 Active
2062 Ford/Eldorado National Aerotech 240 2002 Active
4063 Orion Orion VII 2003 Active
4064 Orion Orion VII 2003 Active
4065 Orion Orion VII 2003 Active
4066 Orion Orion VII 2003 Active
4067 Orion Orion VII 2003 Active
2068 Ford/Eldorado National Aerotech 240 2002 Active
2069 Ford/Eldorado National Aerotech 240 2003 Active
2070 Ford/Eldorado National Aerotech 240 2005 Active
4171 Orion Orion V 2006 Active
4172 Orion Orion V 2006 Active
4173 Orion Orion V 2006 Active
4174 Orion Orion V 2006 Active
4175 Orion Orion V 2007 Active
4176 Orion Orion V 2007 Active
4177 Orion Orion V 2007 Active
4178 Orion Orion V 2007 Active

See also

Notes

External links

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