In May of 1921, The Key System began to operate a motorcoach service. The first line opened up on May 16, 1921, to Mills College and a week later on May 21, service to Montclair began.
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 streetcars.
There is a little dispute as to which line was first, the Montclair, or the Mills College lines. My feeling is a tie – they both started in May 1921.
The first tract office was a tent, and later it was a small building. The tract office was then moved the triangle piece of land at Mountain Blvd, Antioch St, and Antioch Ct. The building later became the offices of Winder Gahan, real estate agents in dealing with Montclair. The original site as seen in the photo was located on the opposite side of Moraga Rd (at LaSalle) which is now in the middle of the Warren Freeway (Hwy 13).
Offices of Winder Gahan at Antioch St and Antioch Ct. circa 1942
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 streetcars. In 1924 they offered service to run until midnight. Before this, bus transportation had been confined to the 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 La Salle Ave.
In September of 1961, a forty-year-old photo led a reunion between to former drivers who pioneered local motorcoach service in the East Bay.
J.L. “Marty” Martin started working in May 1921, and C.E. Pehrson began in September of that same year. They met in Montclair at the approximate site of the first terminal and discuss new verses or coaches and how much things had changed.
Various from the Oakland Tribune
- Historical Photo of Early Bus Found Transit Times April 1975
- Reunion of early drivers Transit Times September 1961
- More on A.C. Transit – Transit Times September 1963