On September 19, 1927, City Transit Company launches as the first public transportation service in Modesto.
In September of 1932, City Transit Company transfers the service to Modesto Motor Bus Service which operated during World War II. Ridership peaked at one million rides in 1945 when automobiles and gasoline were in short supply. In 1946, the Modesto Motor Bus Service purchased three new transit buses with the engines in the rear. In 1955, the Modesto Motor Bus Service expanded to include Greater Modesto.
In the 1960s, the City of Modesto became directly involved with public transit to maintain the profitability of the private Modesto Motor Bus Service. By 1968, the buses used by Modesto Motor Bus Service were old and unreliable, requiring a high level of expensive maintenance. The City obtained a federal grant to purchase four new buses, which it turned over to the private company to replace its aging fleet. The new buses reduced operating expenses and attracted new riders which enabled the company to stay in business.
By 1973, the Modesto Motor Bus Service could no longer continue profitably. No buyers were interested in acquiring the business and it was about to shut down when the City concluded that public transportation was too important to fail. The City acquired the service, re-branding it as Intracity Transit (IT). At the time the City acquired the service, it was carrying only a few hundred thousand riders per year.
In 1990, Modesto Area Express (MAX) was adopted as the new name to replace Intracity Transit.
Today, MAX serves approximately 2.6 million passengers annually and operates daily (except holidays). The total MAX Bus Fleet is made up of 61 buses; five of them are battery-electric zero-emission Proterra buses and four are over-the-road MCI commuter coaches that operate on the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and Stockton Express routes. MAX buses travel over 1.8 million revenue service miles per year and provide transit to neighboring Ceres and Escalon through fixed routes and Dial-A-Ride services.