The West Penn Railways
Company's operations were rather complicated and involved many operations. This short
history will concentrate on the West Penn Bus Lines which operated in Fayette County
serving Brownsville, Connellsville and Uniontown.
West Penn Bus Lines came into
existence on Sunday, January 29, 1950 with the abandonment of West Penn's Uniontown to
Brownsville trolley line. A second line, which was more of an extension of the new line,
was started the next Sunday, February 5, 1950 and ran from Uniontown to Masontown. This
second line was unable to operate on the approved PUC routing to Leckrone due to the
condition of the road which was deemed unsafe for bus operations.
New buses were ordered in
1949 to replace the Uniontown to Brownsville line as well as other lines south of
Uniontown and they arrived in December of that year. The 7 new GM TDH3612's were numbered
101-107 and became the focal point of much West Penn publicity to introduce the new bus
As ridership had been
dropping on the rail lines since the end of World War II, West Penn was forced to attempt
converting its lines over to bus operations. With the road conditions in the service area
being less than smooth, officials were somewhat skeptical that bus substitution would help
with the revenue it was losing running the trolleys but they made the plunge and tried.
The buses did help some as the 36 passenger bus was more efficient than the much older
trolleys were, some of which could seat 70, and allowed for easier service adjustments.
Additional GM TDH3612's were
ordered and arrived in March of 1950 with the numbers 108-111. These were ordered for a
later conversion and to provide some spares so that maintenance could be done without
having a run missed. In preparation for another trolley conversion, another 4 GM TDH3612's
came were delivered in December of 1950 and wore the numbers 112-115. The next conversion
took place on January 21, 1951 and involved 2 lines. The Connellsville to Dawson line and
the Connellsville to Uniontown via Elmgrove and Bitner were converted with the fleet of 15
buses being able to handle the passenger load.
At this point in time, only
the Irwin-Greensburg, Latrobe and Greensburg-Uniontown lines remained. Ridership continued
to decline on the entire system and the last rail to bus conversion took place on August
10, 1952 when the last of the West Penn trolleys were pulled from service. No new buses
were purchased for the final conversion as the ridership had dropped low enough that the
existing 15 buses were sufficient.
The ridership continued to
slide to the point that even the buses were becoming expensive to operate. Routes were cut
and adjusted to compensate but by then, nothing could help the faltering system. In June
of 1953, West Penn Bus Lines went under. The bulk of the almost new buses went to the
recently formed Community Transit Company which ran service between Avella, Washington
County to Pittsburgh.