CITY BUSES: They Started in Detroit Back on January 1st
- HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR "DSR-2-DOT" MEMBERS!!!First off, the moderators of "DSR-2-DOT" would like to wish a Very Prosperous and Happy "2005" NEW YEAR to all of our members. I'm sure one of our main wishes for 2005 is that the New Year will begin a turn in the right direction for public transit here in the Detroit Metro area.But down thru the years, the 1st of January has been a day which has ushered in some major changes on the Detroit Transit scene, and they even affect us here today.It was back on this day in 1925 when the City of Detroit officially entered the transit bus business. During the 1920's, Detroit was experiencing one of its largest population booms in its history. This population explosion resulted in the city annexing new territories, with the city land area growing in size from just under 80 square miles, to nearly 140 in just six years.With many of the residents in these new territories now demanding their share of city services, the city was forced to act. Unfortunately, the majority of the existing street railway operation, now under the DSR, serviced the old pre-1920 Detroit boundaries. It was considered too expensive to expand the rail operation into the faraway districts, so a lower cost means of transportation was sought. After a few unsuccessful attempts, it was later determined that buses would be the best alternative.On Thursday, January 1, 1925, the DSR's Motor Coach Division began its first day of operations with just seven buses. Charging a 10-cent bus fare, the first permanent bus route began operating along Mack Avenue. It was a feeder to the Mack streetcar line and operated from the Hart Loop at Mack and Lycaste, eastward, to the city limits at Cadieux Road.Bus expansion under the DSR was rapid, and more small Dodge-Graham built buses were ordered. By the end of 1925, the DSR had 160 small buses in service. By March 1928 bus service had increased to 38 lines, with over 300 buses and 384 round trip milesBut just prior to the city entering the streetcar business in 1922, a privately owned bus company was successfully started which provided motor bus service within Detroit, under permits from the city. In 1919, the Detroit Motorbus Company was organized, and provided bus service for both Detroit and its suburbs. Beginning in 1925, both the city owned DSR and the Detroit Motorbus Company operated bus service in the city, with the city even contracting out service on some of its own routes to this privately owned bus company.But the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression which followed, quickly took its toll on the DSR. Low ridership and falling revenues forced many streetcars into storage, and many buses were scrapped. In 1930, the Detroit Motorbus Company was ordered by the Detroit Common Council to discontinue its service on those lines where they competed directly with the DSR.With revenues continuing to fall, the Common Council voted on December 22, 1931 to revoke the Detroit Motorbus Co's permits to operate on Detroit streets, effective after December 31, 1931.As a result, on Friday, January 1, 1932, the DSR became the sole provider of public transportation within the City of Detroit, with the city even taking over many of the former company's routes. A combined street railway and bus operation continued under the DSR until streetcars were eliminated in 1956. The bus operation still remains under the City of Detroit to this day, although now under the restructured Department of Transportation (D-DOT).
Many former Detroit Motorbus Company bus routes are still being operated by the City of Detroit to this day, over seventy years later. The Detroit Motorbus Company's most profitable Dexter-Cass line, along with its Dexter Delux (now Dexter Limited), are still being operated by the City, and even follow along similar streets. Other former Detroit Motorbus lines still in operation include, John R. North, Lafayette-Green, Tireman, East Grand Blvd and Second Blvd (although now discontinued under DDOT), and still follow many of the original streets.So what ever became of the Detroit Motorbus Company? After its city routes were captured by the DSR in 1932, its eastern suburban bus lines were acquired by some of its management people who formed Lake Shore Coach Lines. Its western suburban lines became Dearborn Coach Company, later becoming Metropolitan Transit in 1962. Both companies were later acquired under the 1967 formed regional transit authority SEMTA (Lake Shore was acquired in 1971 and Metro in 1974). Today, these lines are all run by the suburban SMART system.So this all goes to show that those decisions and actions of years gone by, can still have an impact on us all today.
....from the Moderators of "DSR-2-DOT"