Whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah ....whoah.
Whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah whoah....whoah.

Pacific Bus Museum

Field review by the editors.

Fremont, California

Judging by the number of attractions devoted to cars, motorcycles, trains, and planes, Americans enjoy spending part of their vacations admiring the vehicles that got them there. But you're probably wondering "What about buses?" Don't they deserve a destination?

Families love the Pacific Bus Museum.
Families love the Pacific Bus Museum.

They do, and we're fortunate that there are at least three historical bus museums -- with nice geographic spread: Hershey, Pennsylvania; Hibbing, Minnesota; and Fremont, California. We've visited all of them!

The Pacific Bus Museum is a non-profit operation run by volunteers, a cluster of bus enthusiasts and preservationists. There are retired drivers and retired passengers who miss the smells, sounds, and feels of mass transit vehicles that once lumbered on routes in California's cities and towns. Formed in 1991, the group was fortunate in 1997 to find a long-term space in Fremont, with large garage bays and parking for buses. In 2014 they opened to the public (and continue to invite visits on the first Saturday of each month). The permanent collection includes about 20 coaches, along with many displays of signage and memorabilia.

The buses mostly range in vintage between World War II and 2000, though we saw one older and few more recent specimens. Bus restorations can take years: a 1932 Twin Coach bus that ran for decades in Oakland is an ongoing project. The bus underwent repairs to the engine and brakes. New tires were added. The interior flooring, seat frames, and cushion upholstery all required restoration or replacement. The museum is still raising funds to restore the windows and exterior.

Bus depot signage at the Pacific Bus Museum.
Bus depot signage at the Pacific Bus Museum.

Every bus is operational, if possible, although during the monthly public access day there's no guarantee that anything will be in motion. Informative signs on stanchions or taped in windows provide the nerdy arcana every true bus enthusiast craves:

"General Motors built two small parlor type models nominally seating 33 and 37 passengers respectively...their rear engines, either gas or diesel, were mounted straight in and coupled to a 4-speed manual transmission."

Duh, we knew that already, but thanks.

We happened to be in the vicinity of the Pacific Bus Museum on the one day a year (in August) when they throw open the gates to the public and also invite in other bus preservationists. Dozens of faithfully preserved or modified buses show up to join in the festivities. Visitors can climb on board and explore old school buses, Greyhound buses converted into private recreational vehicles, and various mass transit conveyances. We enjoyed the older models more than recently retired buses, but if you're feeling nostalgic for a particular eco-friendly downtown shuttle or seniors jitney, you may find a version here.

Don't leave. In the afternoon, there's a bus parade through town.

Pacific Bus Museum

Address:
37974 Shinn St, Fremont, CA
Directions:
East of I-880 via 84/Thornton Ave., right on Fremont Blvd, left on Peralta (still 84) to left on Shinn St, cross RR tracks, museum on left. info@pacbus.org
Hours:
Apr-Nov 1st Sa of the month, 10-2.
Admission:
Adults $5, 6-12 $3
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
Surfing Monument, Santa Cruz, CA - 42 mi.

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November 17, 2018

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