Bamford Motor Coach Lines
started out as the Witaker Bus Line in 1927 with a PSC certificate issued to the Bamford
brothers for a route from Witaker to Homestead. There was service prior to this by August
Bamford, however, this time it was in conjunction with his brothers.
In 1931, the name was changed
to the Bamford Brothers Motor Coach Line after permission was granted to operate a line
from Homestead into Downtown Pittsburgh. This initial operation was heavily restricted
with no local passengers allowed where Pittsburgh Railways Company had trolley routes and
no through passengers between Homestead and Pittsburgh. The restriction against through
passengers was lifted in 1933 and restrictions against local passengers was lifted in
1937. The lifting of these restrictions allowed Bamford to greatly increase ridership.
The original Witaker line
became a feeder route for the new Pittsburgh route and another feeder route was
implemented in 1936 to Homestead Park and Brierly Lane. This route was split into two
separate routes in 1943 but were both still feeders for the main Pittsburgh route. Another
feeder route was implemented in 1937 from Mt. Oliver to East Carson and Becks Run Road to
meet the Homestead - Pittsburgh route. This feeder became a main route to Downtown in 1938
due to the ridership.
In 1944, the company name was
changed again due to two of the brothers retiring from the business. The new name became
Bamford Motor Coach Lines. Ridership increased and additional routes were added but
Bamford had a serious problem. The brothers strongly believed in frequent service and low
fares. This created a cash flow problem in the post war years which resulted in no money
being available to upgrade its fleet. Bamford was forced to purchase used equipment to
supplement its aging and under maintained fleet. These Mack CW's and Bamford's original
equipment became so unreliable that the City of Pittsburgh ordered Bamford off the city
streets in 1948.
To recover from this
situation, Bamford sold off its 2 downtown routes and 10 of the best Mack CW's to
Transit, a company specifically formed for the acquisition, in 1949. With the money
received for the rights and the buses, Bamford purchased 4 new FitzJohn Cityliners to help
improve its local Homestead service. Additional service and new equipment was added
during the 50's. In 1961, Bamford purchased the rights to a few routes from the struggling
Duquesne Motor Coach Lines.
Bamford still was receiving
high ridership due to its extremely low fares. This trend led to monetary problems once
again and this was shown by lack of maintenance. Even with poor equipment, Bamford was
still receiving high ridership right up to the PAT takeover.
When PAT took over Bamford,
only 26 buses were in the fleet. The takeover was delayed by several months due to
arguments over the value of the equipment. All acquired Bamford coaches were scrapped
almost immediately due to the extremely poor condition. As a side note, PAT had required
Bamford to lease some ex-Penn Transit Company buses to hold down service even before any
takeovers were done.
Even with the problems,
Bamford was one of the larger of the Pittsburgh Independents and its ridership, even at
the time it was taken over by PAT, was extremely high.