Posted in Early Montclair, History

The First Bus lines in Oakland

New Service to Montclair
From Ac Transit Time Sept 1961

In May of 1921, The Key System began to operate motor coach service. The first line opened up on May 16, 1921, to Mills College and a week later on May 21st, service to Montclair began.¹

The Realty Syndicate purchased and paid the bills for the motor coaches, to provide transportation for potential customers to Montclair. The coaches were painted to match the street cars.

There is a little dispute as to which line was first, the Montclair or the Mills College lines  My feeling is a tie that both started in May 1921.

The first tract office was a tent and later it was a small building. The tract office was later moved the triangle piece of land at Mountain Blvd, Antioch St, and Antioch Ct.  Antioch Ct.  The building later became the offices of Winder Gahan, real estate agents in dealing with Montclair.  The original site as seen in photo was located on the opposite side of Moraga Rd (at LaSalle) which is now in the middle of the Warren Freeway (Hwy 13).¹

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Feb_25__1940_ (1)
Offices of Winder Gahan at Antioch St and Antioch Ct. circa 1942

 The Schedule

During the commuting hours 6am-9am and 5 to 7pm every 20 minutes. During the remainder of the day a 40-minute service. The fare was 6¢ with transfer privileges to street cars.  In 1924 they offered service to run until midnight. Before this bus transportation had been confined to out-of-town service along the highway.

New Terminal – October 1928

In 1928 a new $18,000 Terminal was built in Montclair.  It was located at the corner of Mountain Blvd and La Salle, a short walk to the Sacramento Northern station.  The Spanish Style building was designed by local architect  Hamilton Murdock and was the first building structure in Montclair.  An Architectural Guide – Pg. 276 

The building is still standing and is located at 6206 LaSalle Ave. 6206 La Salle

A Reunion

In September of 1961, a forty-year-old photo led a reunion between to former drivers who pioneered local motor coach service in the East Bay.

J.L. “Marty” Martin started working in May 1921 and C.E. Pehrson started in September of that same year.  The met in Montclair at the approximate site of the first terminal and discuss new verses or coaches and how much things had changed.

AC Tansit newsletter
Sept 1961 – Reunion – Please see link ( 2) below to read online version of this

Various from the Oakland Tribune

    1. Historic Photo of Early Bus Found  Transit Times April 1975
    2. Reunion of early drivers  Transit Times September 1961
    3. More on AC Transit – Transit Times September 1963
Posted in Uncategorized

The History Bug Strikes

I grew up in the Montclair District in Oakland. I moved there in early 1972 after my Mom remarried. We moved into a four-story home that my step-father had built pretty much by himself.


My family lived there until 2001, when our home was sold. I went to Thornhill Elementary School and Montera Junior High, both local schools and then Skyline High School.

In the 1983 my ex-husband and I were hired by the Montclair Presbyterian Church (where I went as young child) as custodians. We moved into the house the church owned next to the Sanctuary. It was at church I started to get the history bug. I found out that the church had celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1980. I was amazed that the church had been there so long, the same as the house we lived in which was built in about 1927. In about 1985 or so I went on the Fernwood Walking Tour put on by the Oakland Heritage Alliance and from that point on, I was on a mission to find out more about the history of Montclair and Oakland.