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Erie Coach Company

December 7, 1925 - October 31, 1967

The very first form of public transit in Erie began in 1867. This was a single omnibus line started by the owner of the South Erie Turn House to connect his business to the center of town. This line between Federal Hill (26th & Peach) and town was officially chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for operation. This operation was short lived however as the Erie City Passenger Railway Company (ECPR) started operations a little later in 1867 and quite literally drove the omnibus company into the ground by 1868 with its faster and more frequent service along the same route.

There were several changes in ownership and the names of the trolley line in Erie between 1868 and 1924 when the Erie Railway Company (ERC) came into existence after owner, the Buffalo & Erie Railway Company (B&E) went into receivership. The B&E ran both the city rail as well as interurban rail service to Erie. In 1924, the ERC was split out from the B&E. Although still financial sound, the ERC could not afford to expand the existing city system so in 1925, a subsidiary named the Erie Coach Company (ECC) was formed to run less expensive bus service as an alternative to expanding the streetcar network.

On December 7, 1925 the first route for the ECC was started with 4 Yellow Coach type Z's. This line was the Liberty Street feeder and started at Perry Square and followed West 4th Street to Liberty Street and terminated at Melrose St.

A second line started in July of 1926 and was seasonal in nature. This line went from Waldemeer Park to the end of Peninsula Park Road. Service was provided with the purchase of 2 Yellow Coach type X buses. Of note, this line is still in service to this day. An additional line was the Cherry Street line which was started in 1927 with 2 additional Yellow Coach type X buses purchased run the service.

By 1928, bus service in Erie had become accepted and 3 more routes were applied for with 2 of them starting in 1928 along with the purchase of 9 more Yellow Coaches (7 type X a 2 type W). The third of the applied for routes started in 1929 and was the first rail to bus conversion. This conversion was the single track extension of the West 26th car line and the new bus route served this section as a feeder to the remaining car line. One more conversion and one feeder extension followed in 1930 and brought in 3 more Yellow Coach type W coaches.

The years 1931-1935 saw much activity. 3 more conversions, 2 feeders absorbed into existing routes and one new route in 1933 along with the purchase of more Yellows. The original ECPR rail route was converted in 1933 as well and saw the transfer of the outer end of the Cherry Street line to the new Peach Street line.

The conversion of some of the heavily traveled car routes started in 1934 with the West 8th Street line being the first of these. The introduction of the first rear engine coaches for the ECC also occurred at this time when 6 new Yellow Coach 711's were purchased. The next heavy haul route to be converted was the 12th Street line, also in 1934, which was done with new Yellow Coach 717's.

Additional lines continued to be converted between 1935 and 1939 when the last streetcar line was replaced. During these years, more Yellows were purchased for conversions, expansions and replacements of older equipment. ECC liked the Yellow Coach very much but did try Macks and Twins in 1936 due to Yellow not making a rear engine 23 to 25 passenger model at the time.

The ERC officially went out of business in 1939 after transferring its assets to the ECC. The ECC also went through a change as it technically went out of business with the ERC but was immediately reformed as a new company. The new ECC also had a new General Manager who made a somewhat noticeable change to the equipment.

A.F. Tideswell, the new ECC General Manager, decided to stop purchasing Yellow Coaches. As Yellow Coach made up the majority of the fleet, this was a major change in direction. Only 7 more Yellow Coaches (includes the later GM buses as well) were ever purchased by the ECC and those TG-2701's arrived in 1940. The next buses to arrive at the ECC were 1941 & 1942 Twin Coach 30-GS models and they were to start the replacement of the Yellow Coach 711's and 717's.

The bus replacement was put on hold for a short time due to World War II however the ODT allocated the ECC some Ford Transit coaches in 1944. White 788's were also allocated in 1944 but were not well liked and returned to White in 1946. The ECC liked the Ford Transits enough to purchase additional Fords in 1946 & 1947 and had the largest fleet of Ford Transits in Pennsylvania with 88 of the boxy buses on the roster. Beaver Coach was the next bus looked at by the ECC. They also liked these Pennsylvania made buses and ordered 50 of them between 1947 and 1956.

The ECC routes remained virtually unchanged between 1939 and 1949. The first new route under the new ECC was the 41st & Sassafras line which was started in 1950. In 1953 the next new service, as well as the last new service, was instituted as an extension of the West 8th Street line out to the airport.

By 1951, ridership had started to decline due to the increase in private automobile ownership. A 48% ridership drop was observed between 1950's high of over 16 million riders to 8.5 million riders in 1954. By 1955, the investors in the ECC sold their interest in the company to Myron Proser.

Proser raised the fare from 15 cents to 20 cents in 1956 to help offset losses from decreased ridership. Although the fare increase did increase revenues, it wasn't by much. The profits were invested in new buses in 1957 which were 10 Blue Bird modified pusher school buses in a transit configuration. 1960 saw the purchase of 10 additional pusher school buses in a transit configuration but this time they were Oneida bodied Marmons. These 20 buses along with ridership declines allowed the last of the Ford Transits to be retired.

The ECC continued to experience ridership losses and route headways were changed and some routes combined or eliminated and by 1965, a committee was formed to consider the option of a public takeover of the system. This option was made viable due to the Urban Mass Transit Act of 1964 which provided funding to publicly owned systems.

The Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA) was formed on September 20, 1966 and immediately applied for funding for new buses and a new garage and maintenance facility as well as enter negotiations for the purchase of the ECC. Prosner and EMTA could not come to terms of the value of the company however EMTA rented the equipment and operated it. A settlement was reached at midnight of October 31, 1967 and EMTA officially became owner of the system. EMTA's first new buses arrived just two weeks later and were 50 1967 Flxible 111DD-D5's.

During the Proser years, the ECC paint scheme was changed from gray and white with a red stripe to a dark green and white with a orange stripe. Also all of the Beavers were renumbered from the 300 series to 100 series with no logical order to the renumbering. Ridership continued to decline on the system, fares were increased twice, very little if any effort to promote the system and at the end, the ECC was a shadow of its former self by the time EMTA took operations over.

Final Equipment as of October 31, 1967
ECC Number Make Model Year Notes

Notes: Looking up final roster

Routes at time of take over
Looking up routes

Click on images for a full screen view


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This page was updated on July 03, 2008

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