Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Jon's Trailways History Corner

--{Page 6}--

Click on play to hear SAN ANTONIO ROSE->

Installment Twenty

Brooks Trailways Bus Line

Special Thanks - Pictures, research and historical information for this installment of the Trailways history was furnished by Doug Wilkerson from his collection as a life long student of the bus industry and a particular friend of Trailways.

One of the most significant developments affecting both bus and rail transportation in the United States during the last century was the migration of large segments of the population in the South to the industrial areas of the north in search for jobs, often on assembly lines, giving up their former rural life tied to agriculture.  This movement occurred across the width of the entire south and extended not only into the Northeast, but also to manufacturing centers like St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.

Among those journeying north in the early 1920's was a young man from Paducah, Kentucky, named J. Polk Brooks.  Jobs were plentiful in Detroit and he found employment with Briggs Body Company and later Chevrolet.  While Brooks lived in Detroit, in his mind he was still a Kentuckian and on many weekend and on holidays, he and his wife would journey back to Paducah. Often, other friends in Detroit who were from home would ask to ride with them and chip in with expenses for the trip.

Riders traveling home with Brooks got to be a constant fixture on each trip home and in 1929 Brooks realized that there was a need for regular transportation to and from Detroit for people in this unique situation.  He took the step of quitting his job with Chevrolet, secured a Kentucky taxi license and purchased a new 1929 Plymouth for $810 to reliably make the trip.  He offered one round trip per week and charged a one way fare of $8.00   That fare included pickup at your house and delivery to your residence on the other end.  Brooks knew his market, and in the lean days of the depression, if a rider was short on funds, he didn't insist on the full amount.  There was alternative transportation available, both rail and bus, but the fares were higher and the running time longer.  Brooks' service catered to residents of Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois, and operated as an express to Michigan points.  Brooks' service became well known and popular.

By the mid-30's, Brooks' schedule was up to four trips a week and traffic had increased to the extent the regular sedans could no longer accommodate the passenger loads and several Buick stretch-outs were purchased.  1934 saw the extension southward to Fulton, Kentucky on the Tennessee line from Paducah.  In 1937, Brooks hit a major glitch.  He had been operating under a Kentucky taxi license, but in 1935 the Interstate Commerce Act had gone into effect and in 1937. Brooks was stopped on the road en route in a routine check for ICC operating authority.  In all actuality, Brooks would have qualified to grandfather his authority in -- had he known about the act and done it, but he was busy with his Plymouths and Dodges and missed his opportunity.  Brooks hired an attorney who, despite the protests of other carriers, got Brooks temporary operating authority in 1938 and then full permanent authority came in 1941.

With the needed ICC authority finally granted, Brooks graduated to buses and purchased Flxible products which were painted red and white.  Service was also increased to daily and the door-to-door service was discontinued in favor of using bus stations.

In 1942 Brooks joined the National Trailways Bus System and for many years the bus line was known as Brooks Trailways Bus Line.  The schedules operated overnight service in both directions and featured reserved seats and pillows.

Buick powered (straight eights) Flxibles drove Brooks through the mid-40's until in 1949 Brooks purchased their first diesel, a GM PDA-4101, followed by two PD-4102's in 1950 and two PD-4103's in 1951.  Having bought five brand new buses in three years, Brooks took a little breather until in 1954 they began purchasing GM's new PD-4104 model.

Brooks was still a member of Trailways, but in 1959, with the lack of any meaningful connection or traffic feed from other members of the association, the decision was made to drop out of the association and continue as an independent carrier.   Slightly over forty years would pass before part of Brooks would return to Trailways.

They stayed a loyal GM customer, finishing off with the PD-4905A in the mid-70's and then turned to MCI, purchasing MC-8's.  In 1962, though, the purchased a Beck DH-1040, Beck's forty foot coach which closely resembled Greyhound's Scenicruiser.  The bus had originally been delivered to Cuba but had been repossessed and then refurbished at Beck's plant in Sydney, Ohio. It was purchased for touring by the country music artist Ray Price.  Brooks held on to the bus for four years during which time it ran on the line and also in charter service.  Since it was a 43 passenger bus, holiday periods always saw it on the schedule.

Over the years, Brooks had several acquisitions of other carriers which were significant.  In 1960, Brooks purchased a small Michigan commuter carrier named South Macomb transportation, who operated a line from Detroit to suburban Utica, Michigan.  South Macomb operated four Kalamazoo Pony Cruisers which were not to remain long.  Being replaced with Brooks' 4104's and later 4106's.  More importantly, South Macomb also had full charter rights out of metro Detroit and the company was renamed Brooks Charters and Tours.  In the 1976 this Michigan operation had grown to the extent that it was difficult to control from Paducah and the decision was made to sell it to Brooks' Detroit manager, Judson Rohrer.

In 1973, Brooks purchased Western Kentucky Stages, a regional carrier founded in the early 40's.  Western Kentucky's principal route was between Paducah and Clarksville via Hopkinsville.  The mainstay of the service was its status as a bridge route in Greyhound's route structure between Nashville and St, Louis.  One through bus was operated each day with Greyhound between Nashville and St. Louis with Western Kentucky operating the Clarksville-Paducah segment.  With the purchase of Western Kentucky, Brooks slid into this situation.  The financially lucrative arrangement continued until with the deregulation of the bus industry and Greyhound's changing financial situation, Greyhound decided that having Brooks in the middle of what they considered "their" route, they'd just operate the bus all the way through, thus cutting Brooks out and essentially ending the viability of the line.  Greyhound continues to run over the former Brooks' route today with the exception that all the intermediate points lost their bus service.

Brooks continued as a charter and tour operator based in Paducah, but several years ago, the current head of the company, Kevin Brooks, sold to a Memphis based motor coach company by the name of Southern Stages.  Not to long ago, Southern Stages joined Trailways as a tour and charter member, and so after an absence of 40 years, Paducah's Brooks Bus Line is back in the Trailways family.


Click Here for photo (BrB-1_Plymouth)

Click Here for photo (BrB-101_PD4102)

Click Here for photo (BrB-114_BeckDH1040)

Click Here for photo (BrB-116_4106)

Click Here for photo (BrB-18Flx288148)

Click Here for photo (BrB-5_Buick-SU)

Installment Twenty One

West Coast Trailways

Continental Pacific Lines

To most people, this operation was nothing more than Continental's tag-on extending into the nether regions of the Pacific Northwest.  It was, however, supposed to be a bus line extending from Phoenix, Arizona to Seattle, Washington, and therein starts our story.

The corporate entity, West Coast Bus Lines, Ltd., was organized in early 1938 by an industry veteran named Gene Allen.  He started in the bus business in 1921 with a company called Columbia Gorge Motor Coach System which was later acquired by Pickwick Stages.  Columbia Gorge was operated as a separate entity from Pickwick, running from Salt Lake City to Portland, Spokane to Pendleton, Oregon, and from The Dalles, Oregon to Bend and Klamath Falls.  In 1934, Motor Transit Corp. (Greyhound was acquiring Pickwick and its Columbia Gorge operation.  In the early 30's, Gene Allen joined Mount Hood Stages, a company started by Myrl and Maurice Hoover, who owned a Ford and Lincoln auto dealership in Bend.  While still with Columbia Gorge/Pickwick, Allen had transferred the routes from The Dalles to Klamath Falls, and Portland to Government Camp to Mount Hood.  After he joined Mount Hood, he was also able to secure the former Pickwick route from Bend to Eugene.

In 1933, Allen sold his stock in Mount Hood to the Hoovers and took a position with Santa Fe Trail Transportation, staying with them until 1937 when he left to form West Coast Bus Lines, Ltd.

In April 1938, West Coast made application to the Interstate Commerce Commission to operate from Phoenix, Arizona through Los Angeles and then north to Seattle, Washington.  A hearing for West Coast to prove public convenience and necessity was held in August 1938.   The ICC didn't seem to want to make a hasty decision and West Coast did not receive a grant of the operating authority until 1943.  North Coast Lines, a bus line running from Portland to Seattle, promptly filled an injunction against West Coast and held up the final grant of actual operating authority until November 1944

His finances running low due to the long delays, Allen sold Santa Fe Trailways and Continental Bus System each a 15.8% interest in West Coast and in July 1944, ordered 30 ACF Brill IC-37 coaches with delivery promised by the Fall of 1945.  ACF failed to deliver the buses.

Allen leased four Aerocoach P-37's and one Flxible 29BR Clipper from Car Leasing Co., of Maywood, Illinois, and on November 5, 1945, a little more than six years since Allen had filed his original application, service began on West Coast Trailways with one round trip per day between Seattle and San Francisco.  A picture of one of the leased Aerocoaches at the agency in Roseburg, Oregon, is included with this history.  West Coast was conceived with the idea of being a Trailways carrier and always operated as such.

ACF finally managed to deliver eight of the IC-37's in March 1946 by diverting a portion of a Santa Fe order and service was increased to three rounds a day between Seattle and San Francisco.  In the fall of 1946, disaster struck the fledgling West Coast operation when one of the Aerocoaches was involved in a horrendous accident on US 99 in Southern Oregon, resulting in a huge story in the newspapers with much bad publicity along with Car Leasing recalling their remaining four buses.  West Coast was forced to cut back to two rounds per day.

It was tough going for the new company.  Besides the bad publicity from the accident, West Coast was operating through territory long cherished by Pacific Greyhound as their own.  In addition, West Coast only held interstate authority and had no local rights within the states of California, Oregon and Washington.   Intrastate rights within California were granted in May 1948, but only from Sacramento north, San Francisco to Sacramento, a prime local market,  remained restricted against local traffic.  Oregon intrastate authority would come in the early 1950's. Another problem for West Coast was as a result of an error in their original ICC application...  They forgot to ask for authority to handle package express!  Package Express authority was finally obtained, however intrastate authority in the State of Washington was never obtained due to Washington's one-route, one-carrier law and West Coast and later Continental refused to challenge the law in court.  This made West Coast operations between Portland and Seattle very weak.  In essence, when a West Coast schedule left Portland for the last five and a half hours of it's 907 mile trek north, it could only drop passengers, no one could get on, 190 miles with closed doors, coupled with the first 100 miles restricted against local passengers leaving San Francisco.

West Coast's general offices were in San Francisco and they had shops there and in Portland and Seattle.  West Coast made another application to operate between Sacramento and Stockton, California, thus obtaining a short cut to connect with Santa Fe for passenger traffic from the northwest to Los Angeles.  Service was never operated by West Coast Between Phoenix and San Francisco and of the 30 IC-37's ordered, only 20 were ever operated, eight 1946 models diverted from a Santa Fe order and the remaining twelve in 1947. They were numbered 5 through 25 with number 123 omitted for superstition and with the Continental purchase, in 1949, all received a "P" prefix to the number.  Later on, the ACF's were transferred to Continental Western Lines and received "W" prefixes with some being renumbered also.  At the time of the sale, West Coast was running four round trips per day between Seattle and San Francisco.

In 1948, with Continental's purchase of Santa Fe poised to go through, Continental would then own 31.6% of West Coast and negations were entered into with Gene Allen to purchase his two-thirds interest in West Coast.  The sale was approved by the ICC in 1949, the sale was approved and West Coast Bus Lines, Ltd. Was renamed Continental Pacific Lines, Inc.  The office was moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco and the company was administrated thereafter by Continental Western Lines.

Continental Pacific was still operating with their original ACF IC-37's and competing with Greyhound's Scenicruisers and 4204's until 1956 when 12 nearly new 1955 Flxible Vistaliners were transferred to Continental Pacific and renumbered P-26 through P-37 from Continental Western.  The buses were still titled to Continental Western and from 1953 to 1975, Continental Pacific was actually a bus company with no buses, using Western's equipment on lease.  In  with the advent of the five-digit numbering Continental Pacific was assigned the 44000 series of numbers and received five new Model 05 Eagles.  These five buses were actually the first new buses for the company since West Coast received the last 12 ACF's in 1947!

In late 1975 TCO Industries, the parent of Continental Trailways, merged the operating rights of Continental Pacific Lines into those of Continental Western Lines, thus ending the unique life of this carrier, which had spent its life as an also ran.  Beyond the early problems of West Coast which have been discussed earlier, here are some of the goings on which kept the company from thriving as part f Continental........

ABSOLUTE MANAGERIAL NEGLECT -- Continental Pacific was managed by Western Lines who saw the operation north of Sacramento as a looser that was far away.  They operated it with outdated, tired equipment and had absolutely no supervision for the 806 miles north of Sacramento to Seattle!  The only exception was the retaining of Elwood Arneson of Evergreen Trailways in Seattle to keep an eye on things on a part time basis.  Continental Pacific's drivers were a breed unto themselves, who complained bitterly if they had to handle a passenger load more than six passengers and whose physical appearance as Trailways bus drivers can only be described as disgusting and appalling.

FIVE STAR LUXURY SERVICE -- While there's nothing wrong with the Five star, for years, that's all there was on Continental Pacific, giving "Trailways" in the northwest the reputation as being more expensive than Greyhound.  In addition, agents who were desperate for sales, when the opportunity arose in holiday periods, sold every passenger who walked up, irregardless of whether they had a reservation, meaning that a bus coming out of Seattle for L.A. was generally fully loaded by the time it left Olympia with the upshot that no agencies below that point could board anyone, even those who had legitimate reservations until a seat was finally vacated.  L.A.'s answer to the problem, open the tickets to Greyhound and tell the passengers to walk down the street...  No doubles!

DEMANDS ON OTHER CARRIERS -- Pacific Trailways had schedules which originated in St, Louis and Dallas which ran through to Seattle, three rounds a day, operated between Portland and Seattle by Continental Pacific. Few people know that PT was forced to subsidize the Continental Pacific operation of these schedules or there would have been no service north of Portland.

A STUDY SAID IT WAS A DEAD END STREET -- Continental, under Holiday Inns ownership commissioned a study of the Pacific Northwest and the results which came back from that told them that the Northwest was a dead issue. Dallas bought the absurd conclusions and things got even worse after that. That's when the started to try and unload it...

The first carrier to be offered the authority was Bill Niskanen at Pacific Trailways in Bend.  Bill later confided to me that refusing their offer to sell it for $1.00 was the stupidest thing he ever did.  He was looking at the pathetic operation and low traffic counts without realizing that the route was potentially more valuable than PT's mainline from Portland to Salt Lake City.

In the early 80's, they one of Trailways, Inc.'s managers convinced Kerrigan to put on a lot of service in the Northwest.  It was ill conceived and failed miserably with a horrendous cost.  With their sinus's cleared (along with their wallet), Dallas talked Paul Harmon at Cascade Trailways into taking it over, but they didn't give him the operation all the way to San Francisco, they pulled him up short at Sacramento.  The ink had barely dried for Harmon's take over of the lease on the Sacramento depot when Trailways, Inc. Went down, stranding Harmon in a Greyhound sea.  Suffice it to say that Greyhound was not interested in sharing, not even for one Cascade Schedule. Harmon died a quick death and turned it over to Evergreen Stage Lines out of Portland who also got their financial clock cleaned by Greyhound who wanted no competition and made sure that there was no schedule from the south to feed the northbound Trailways departure at Sacramento.

In the early 90's, the Trailways association, in an attempt to rebuild, talked a number of west coast carriers into starting line service.  Harmon at Cascade was talked into running from Seattle to Medford where Alex Allen with Amador Trailways was going to meet him from the bay area.  Harmon started, Allen never showed up and dogged everyone's phone calls.  Harmon got cleaned for the second time.  Score, good guys zero, Greyhound's hand took the trick again.

So the end of what should have been a viable bus line and bus route for Trailways.


Click Here for photo (WeC-9_IC37-Eugene)

Click Here for photo (WeC-5_IC37)

Click Here for photo (WeC-8_IC37

Click Here for photo (WeC-9_IC37)

Click Here for photo (WeC-3_Aerocoach-P37)

Click Here for photo (WestCoach_badge)

Click Here for photo (CPac-P21_IC37)

Click Here for photo (CPac-P36_228JT1-55)

Click Here for photo (CPac-P6_IC37)

Please Take The Time To Sign Jon's Guestbook
View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook