The City’s transit service was initially known as the Modesto Motor Bus Service, and was operated by a private owner. Ridership on the service peaked during World War II when automobiles and gasoline were in short supply. Ridership and the service’s profitability began a steady decline after the war due primarily to the popularity of the automobile. The City 1st became involved with public transit in an attempt to maintain the profitability of the private transit company. By 1968 the buses used by the company were old and undependable and due to their advanced age required a high level of expensive maintenance.
The City obtained a federal grant to purchase 4 new 1968 buses which it turned over to the private company to replace its aging fleet. The new buses reduced operating expenses and attracted new riders and thus enabled the company to continue in business. By 1973 the company owner, who did everything himself from maintaining buses to dispatching and driving, decided that the business could no longer continue profitably. No buyers were interested in acquiring the business and it was about to shut down. The City determined that it was important for the community to have public transit service continue and decided to operate it as a public service, ultimately changing the name to Intracity Transit. At the time the City acquired the service it was carrying a few hundred thousand riders per year. The service now carries the name Modesto Area Express (MAX), which was adopted by the City in 1990, and serves approximately 3,600,000 passengers annually.