Rider gets off 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 Celebrates its 100 Millionth Rider

by | Mar 6, 2024 | College Town

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.

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.”