The summer of 1974 was a tumultuous one in the United States as President Nixon had recently resigned in disgrace, the failed war in Vietnam was winding down, Patty Hearst was on the run with the SLA, gas shortages led to widespread rationing and a global recession was on the horizon. Here in Los Angeles, our public transportation system was in such tatters that the LA Times reported that Angelenos had to deal with "half empty buses that rolled past waiting passengers, schedules that went awry, and fares that jumped alarmingly at each new zone." The Rapid Transit District decided something needed to be done and one of their ideas was to launch a "Street Fleet" aimed at Inland kids that would ferry them to the beach during the summer. 

The Street Fleet buses, decorated as battleship-grey submarines (complete with periscope) churning through bright blue waves, made their way to pick up kids in the Valley, Pasadena, Watts and more on 4 different lines and transported them to the beachfront in Santa Monica. Foreshadowing our current world-class transit system, with its subway to the beach, art installations at every train stop, colorful buses and more, the RTD pulled out all of the stops in their promotion campaign including organizing activities that included bus painting, Street Fleet posters in area schools, skywriting, retail tie-in promotions, a special student beach pass, an informational brochure, letters to school principals and even sleeves over the bus stops that made the beach runs. There was even a promotional video with a catchy theme song (watch it and tell us those kids weren't having a blast!!).

Beach goers were encouraged to bring their surfboards and the Street Fleet service was described as a "life preserver for kids who live in the inland areas of Los Angeles County that will run seven days a week for the 93-day summer beach season.”  According to, the Street Fleet was a success, and soon became known for its wet seats, rambunctious atmosphere, and sandy floors crowded with volleyballs and the aforementioned surfboards. Sadly, it only lasted the summer of '74 as there was not enough funding to continue the program in the summer of 1975. We housesellers would be delighted to hear from any Boomers or Gen-X kids who have stories about the Street Fleet they would like to share.