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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

Unitrans celebrates 100 million riders, 56th anniversary

One student was gifted a “Golden Ticket” valid for a lifetime of free Unitrans rides, among other prizes


By VINCE BASADA — campus@theaggie.org


Unitrans celebrated both its 100 millionth rider and its 56th anniversary on Feb. 28 with much fanfare, choosing one rider to be gifted a “Golden Ticket” and giving away goodie bags and souvenirs to commemorate the milestone.

The lucky 100 millionth rider, Gabriela Jimenez, a third-year political science major on her commute to class, was one of approximately nine people on the randomly selected Q Line bus. Each rider was given a small gift basket, with Jimenez receiving a large Willy Wonka-esque golden ticket that read “100 Millionth Rider.” 

She exited the bus, which had just pulled into the station, with rounds of applause from onlookers, live music and local media documenting her historic ride.

Alongside the ticket, Jimenez was given a larger gift bag, including gift cards, merchandise, a pizza party for eight from Woodstock’s and Unitrans-themed accessories valued over $200 — not to mention that Jimenez’s golden ticket grants free Unitrans rides for life.

Jimenez, who spoke with The Aggie as she walked to her fast-approaching class, expressed shock at her good fortune.

“The odds of this happening are so low, and then it happened, and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s crazy,’” Jimenez said.

She said that she takes Unitrans daily but was not originally planning to take the winning bus. 

“I was originally going to take the W in the morning, but then I ran late and […] ended up taking the Q instead,” Jimenez said. “Lucky choice.”

Stacy Clark, a local Davis resident who was on the same bus as Jimenez, said that she saw the initial announcements for the festivities and predicted that the Q line would be the winning bus, given its scheduled stop time at the station.

“Everyone was just kind of numb, but I got all weird and was like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re all going to win something,’” Clark said. “There’s, like, me and eight students on the bus, and the girl behind me was the winner.”

The celebration began shortly before noon at the Memorial Union bus terminal. The UC Davis marching band performed as dozens of students lined up for merchandise and light refreshments served by Unitrans workers.

Unitrans, which serves as the primary public transport service for not only UC Davis students but also members of the Davis community, began service in 1968 with two vintage double-decker buses.

Unitrans services three million riders annually and projects that approximately 20,000 people will ride its buses each weekday this academic year. The service employs 225 student workers who run 18 routes throughout Davis.

Unitrans Director Jeff Flynn said that Unitrans has been logging riders since its founding and has projected it would pass the 100 million mark this year, eventually crossing to commemorate it on the same day as its 56th anniversary.

“We are really grateful for our riders who ride [with] us every single day,” Flynn said. “We know it’s been a rough year with very crowded buses, but we’re hiring drivers.”


Written by: Vince Basada campus@theaggie.org


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