The history of Montour Motor
Coach Lines (MMCL) can be traced back to 1922 when the PSC granted permission to John
& George Sauers for a line from the Thornburg Bridge in the Crafton area to Clinton
(near Coraopolis). This original line went through sparsely populated areas and it is
believed that the service was infrequent at best. This line was approximately 14 miles and
traveled over the Lincoln Highway (now US Rt 30). A second line was instituted in 1926
from the junction of the Lincoln Highway and the William Penn Highway (now US Rt 22) to
Santiago. A third line was added in 1928 from McKees Rocks to Moon Run via Chartiers Ave,
Moon Run and Stuebenville Pike Road.
The original 1922 line and
the 1926 line were extended into Downtown Pittsburgh in 1931 via Crafton Blvd with
restrictions in favor of Pittsburgh Railways Company against local passengers between
Crafton and Pittsburgh. The lines were once again extended in 1935 when the 1922 line was
extended to the West Virginia state line and the 1926 route was extended to the Washington
County border. The operation then remained unchanged until 1944.
On May 3, 1944, the rights to
the routes and the buses of the Sauers operation were sold to George and Martha Harrison
(trading as Montour Motor Coach Lines) who also owned another bus company in Oil City
(Citizens Transit Company) and a moving company named Harrison-Shields Transportation
Lines. The Harrison's transferred the rights and buses to a new corporation that they set
up to operate the old Sauers operation which was the Montour Motor Coach Lines on August
MMCL almost immediately
revised the route patterns which included 2 new routes and a deviation off the Lincoln
Highway line to serve the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The first new route ran from
Pittsburgh to Moon Run via West Carson Street, Chartiers Avenue, Broadway, Forest Grove
Road, Silver Lane Road and Beaver Grade Road. The second new route ran between Carnegie
and Imperial via Campbell's Run Road.
Another route was applied for
and permission granted by the PUC in 1946 which ran from Pittsburgh to Quinn's Corners.
This line was restricted from local traffic between Pittsburgh and Woodville. At the same
time, applications were filed for an unprecedented 4 shuttle lines in Carnegie. This was
unique as Carnegie was a rather small but densely populated steel town which the
Pittsburgh Railways Company bypassed as most everything was within walking distance. The
Carnegie shuttle applications were granted by the PUC as well with the provision that none
of these shuttle lines, nor the 1944 Campbell Run Road route, would ever be through
A spur route was approved in
1948 to serve the Indian Pines Village housing project, east of Gayly off the Lincoln
Highway, but there no records of this line ever operating. Another spur route from the
Lincoln Highway-State Line route was approved in 1950 to serve Raccoon Lake but the State
Line route was already cut back to Imperial by that point. Due to the cut back at Imperial
and that there have been no records discovered of this line operating, it seems unlikely
that this route ever operated.
A new carrier entered
Montour's operating territory in 1948 and duplicated service over much of the
Pittsburgh-Carnegie-Oakdale route. It also duplicated service over the inactive portion of
this route from Oakdale through Quinn's Corners and Imperial which the MMCL still held
rights for. For some reason, yet unknown, the MMCL never protested the Gradison Auto Bus
Company (Burgettstown PA - Washington County) incursion to the PUC and let the competition
continue for 3 years when it sold the entire certified line to Poskin Bus Lines in 1951.
The MMCL operation never
appeared to be profitable as is evident in the roster of mostly second hand, marginally
maintained equipment. MMCL buses did not have destination signs in them unless it came
with the used bus, however it appears the few new buses did come with signs.. In 1949, the
MMCL operated 10 routes with less than 15 buses. Although the route mileage was a lot, the
population was low in much of the service area and many of the routes operated at well
over 2 hour headway between trips. The low population and long headway amounted to little
revenue and the 3 years of the direct Gradison competition didn't help the bottom line.
By 1953, the MMCL was closing
up business for good. The Pittsburgh-McKees Rocks-Moon Run route was purchased on March
30, 1953 by Edward Moorhead who traded as Moorhead Motor Coach Lines. PUC approval was
granted for the transfer and Moorhead ran the line for approximately 6 months until the
line was purchased by Gradison. All the remaining MMCL service, as well as buses, were
purchased by Gradison on April 13, 1953. The final asset of MMCL were charter rights,
which included origination rights in Pittsburgh, which were sold to DeBolt Transit in mid
Charters were done frequently
for schools in the service area to take sports teams to games at other schools. It's not
known what other charter work the MMCL did but it appears that the school charters were
its main source of revenue from charter work.
The MMCL appeared to have
some form of radios installed. Many of the pictures of the buses show a rather large
antenna mounted on the roof that extends the width of the bus above the destination sign.
It seems odd that a small company such as this would have a radio system installed but to
date, no other explanation for the antenna type unit on the buses can be explained.
Of the equipment owned by the
MMCL, only 4 buses were ever purchased new and all others were used. Of the new buses, 2
were 1947 Beaver B-35-PT models and 2 were 1948 FitzJohn 510-H models. At least 6 buses
were transferred from the Harrison's other transit interest, the Citizens Transit Company
of Oil City to supplement the MMCL fleet through the years of MMCL operation. The newest
buses in the fleet were the 2 1948 FitzJohns. At least 1 bus, possibly 2 (MMCL fleet list
has some gaps), from MMCL made it to PAT in 1964 but were never renumbered and retired
almost immediately. These 2 buses were ex-Citizen Transit buses purchased in 1953 by
Austin Motor Coach, 1 of which is definitely known to have operated for MMCL.