Gainesville public transit celebrates 50 years of service

Published on April 05, 2024


The City of Gainesville will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Regional Transit System (RTS), the City’s public transportation system serving the Gainesville area, and the University of Florida and Santa Fe College campuses, that began as a small private company before becoming a public asset in 1974.

When: 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 12

Where: Regional Transit System (RTS) Administration Building, 34 SE 13th Road

The origins of Gainesville’s bus service can be traced to the private Gainesville Transit Company, founded in 1968. The City contracted with the company for bus services on three “City lines.” The University of Florida contract for service included three “campus lines,” and the two systems operated separately.

In December 1973, the City and Alachua County entered into an interlocal agreement to create the Gainesville/Alachua County Regional Transportation Board, ensuring bus service continued while the county’s purchase of the transit company and its 16 buses was finalized. The Regional Transit System officially became a public asset in April 1974. The City assumed RTS operations in 1981.

Today, there are 102 RTS buses in the City’s fleet, 39 routes throughout the Gainesville Urbanized Area and five UF campus routes. In FY23, the number of passenger trips on RTS buses totaled more than 5 million, averaging more than 380,000/month; UF ridership accounted for more than 3.4 million trips; trips by passengers with disabilities totaled more than 518,000.

1975 Bike and pedestrian passenger board RTS bus

1975 RTS Bus

RTS yellow and red trolley circa 1986-1989

Late 80s trolley


  • 1968-Gainesville Transit Company begins bus service in Gainesville and on UF campus. 
  • 1969-City, County and Florida Dept. of Transportation work to develop transportation planning program in response to Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962.
  • 1973-City of Gainesville and Alachua County contract for development of “5-year transit improvement program.”
  • 1974-Alachua County purchases Gainesville Transit Company.
  • 1975-35 new RTS buses serve passengers on 6 city routes and 2 campus routes.
  • 1977-RTS ridership reaches more than 3 million.
  • 1979-Bus fares increase from 25 cents to 35 cents per ride.
  • 1981-County transfers RTS operations to the City.
  • 1983-Bus fares rise to 50 cents.
  • 1984-Transit service expands to include minibus service, shuttle bus service at UF and the park ‘n ride Gator-Aider service during football season.
  • 1986-City purchases 3 trolleys but discontinues trolley service in 1989.
  • 1995-City, County, the Florida Board of Regents and UF work to accommodate traffic growth around UF campus.
  • 1996-Bus service includes 11 city routes and 4 campus routes. RTS offers monthly passes. Fares increase from 75 cents to $1. 
  • 1998-City and UF entered into an interlocal agreement to provide students, faculty and staff prepaid, unlimited ridership on RTS.
  • 2000-Full implementation of unlimited access program includes City and County employees.
  • 2002-RTS service includes 19 city routes, 10 campus routes and 6 night service routes.
  • 2007-City opens RTS Rosa Parks Downtown Station.
  • 2012-City adds first hybrid buses to fleet.
  • 2013-RTS ridership peaks at 10.9 million.
  • 2015-City opens new RTS headsquarters building.
  • 2016-City opens RTS Butler Plaza Transfer Station.
  • 2021-City adds first zero-emission electric buses to fleet; City introduces free-fare transit program for RTS riders 18 and younger, 65 and older.
  • 2024-New RTS Eastside Transfer Station (as part of the Eastside Health and Economic Development Initiative) under design.