SCRTD even employed “Mini-Maids” as goodwill ambassadors to hand out brochures about the service along with maps of the initial 6.9 mile route linking the Civic Center with Bunker Hill, Broadway, and 7th Street.
With initial fares at 10 cents and service running every four minutes, the Mini-Buses were an instant hit.
Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty and U.S. Congressman Edward R. Roybal, along with members of the Community Redevelopment Agency and Central City Association were on hand for the launch’s press conference.
SCRTD President Dr. Norman Topping pointed out that the Mini-Bus service was urgently needed to improve circulation, reduce congestion, and to improve air quality — all while increasing retail sales in the area by improving mobility downtown.
The nineteen natural gas-powered buses were a completely new and innovative design for Los Angeles.
Twenty colorful, “vandal-proof” seats arranged around the perimeter of the cab (rather than front-facing rows) and the first four-wheel disc brakes on public transit vehicles in the area were particularly intriguing features.
New signs were installed along the route, each including the map of the bus route in the same orange-brown-and-white color scheme as the Mini-Buses.
Within 7 weeks of service, weekly boardings topped 22,000.
The Mini-Buses were later used as circulators at LAX and served Chinatown and other areas beyond the initial downtown route.
Today, the successor to the Mini-Bus is the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s DASH service.
Five lines run throughout the downtown area (every 5 to 15 minutes these days), supplemented by 27 additional routes in outlying areas of the City of Los Angeles providing 7 million passenger trips per year.
Many more images of the 1971 Mini-Bus service can be found here.