Golden Empire Transit District
Context for Year Founded
Governing or Corporate Structure
Golden Empire Transit District is governed by a five-member Board of Directors. Two are appointed by the Bakersfield City Council, two are appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, and a fifth member is appointed by the 4 other members.
Significant Historical Milestones
Public transportation in Bakersfield had its beginnings as a result of a land dispute between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the town's citizens in the 1870's. The railroad bypassed the town, requiring a transportation link between Bakersfield and the location of the depot. Stage drivers provided the first link and finally in 1888 a horse drawn streetcar line was constructed and electrified in 1901. During the next twenty years, lines were extended, service was improved, and the first buses were introduced. In the 1920's and 30's competition from the auto and development of new subdivisions resulted in financial setbacks, and the streetcar and bus company was sold to employees who operated it on a smaller scale. The streetcar business declined and was eliminated in the 1940's and in 1956 the City of Bakersfield assumed operation and maintenance of the bus system. This marked the beginning of a publicly-owned transit system.
Throughout the 1960's, the transit system suffered mounting financial losses. When it seemed the City might terminate the system, the Greater Bakersfield Metropolitan Transit Committee was formed to determine how to preserve the system and enlarge and update its services. It was decided that a special transit district should be formed, and special legislation was drafted for approval at the state level. This bill was sponsored by state senator Walter Stiern.
In 1972 voters within the proposed transit district boundaries approved formation of the District by a 2 to 1 margin. Mr. Ivo Keyser was hired as the first General Manager and on July 1, 1973, the Greater Bakersfield Metropolitan Transit District completely separated from the City. In September 1973 the name of the District was changed to the Golden Empire Transit District (GET). New buses were purchased and a totally new route system was established. GET initiated curb-to-curb dial-a-ride service (GET A Lift) for disabled persons in 1979.
In the 1980's a new administrative & maintenance facility was constructed, a Downtown Transit Center opened, and a new crosstown route system was implemented.
In the 1990's a second transit center opened, CNG buses were purchased, and bicycle racks were installed on all buses. The first years of the new century experienced record ridership and expanded service, including evenings. During the most recent years, GET has opened a third transit center, initiated Rapid Route service, installed a GPS/AVL system, created an environmental management system, and completed a Long Range Plan.
Ivo Keyser- The District's first General Manager (1973-1982). Under his leadership, an aging fleet was replaced, a new route system was implemented, a two-way radio system was purchased, and ridership increased by 167%.
Steve Ruggenberg- As General Manager from 1982-1999, a new administrative/maintenance complex opened, two transit centers were constructed, the first CNG buses were purchased, an on-site CNG station opened, and a new crosstown route system was implemented.
Chester Moland- (1999-2007) As CEO, the fleet was expanded to be 100% CNG, Sunday & evening service were implemented, fareboxes were upgraded, and an automatic vehicle location system (AVL) became operational.
Karen King- (2008-present) A new transit center was constructed, a new GPS/AVL system became operational, a long range study was completed and implemented, the District's first official park and ride lot opened, and the first long distance commuter express route became operational.
Howard Silver- Longest serving GET Board member (1984-2014) was active in CTA and APTA, promoting public transit.
- Dial-a-ride service (GET A Lift) for persons with disabilities initiated in 1979 A new Administrative/Maintenance complex opened in 1983.
- The District's first transit center opened 1987 (Downtown Transit Center).
- First CNG Buses arrived 1997.
- First Express Route initiated 1998.
- Bicycle racks installed on buses 1998.
- On-site CNG fueling station completed 1998.
- Transfers were eliminated and Day Passes initiated 2000.
- Evening service was implemented in 2000.
- Installation of an automatic vehicle system 2003.
- First 40-ft. buses placed into service 2004.
- Fleet became 100% CNG 2006.
- First long distance commuter route implemented 2008.
- First official park and ride lot opened 2011.
- Bakersfield College Transit Center opened 2012.
- First Rapid Routes implemented 2012.
- Solar lights installed at bus stops 2012.
- GPS tracking system installed 2014.
Public Transit and Commuter Rail Agencies
Number of Employees
Number of Bus Routes Provided
Number of Rail Lines Served
Major Planned Investments
- Maintenance/Administrative Facility
- New transit centers