Ezio Bigi started a jitney
service that connected Bridgeville with the end of the Pittsburgh Railways 42 Dormont car
line about 1922. Service ran along local roads including McLaughlin Run, passing near the
present day Drake Loop, Brookside Road and Washington Road. As development hit the South
Hills the route was shifted to Painter's Run Road and Cedar Boulevard. An alternate
routing operated via Bower Hill Road. Unlike many of the other independents, Bigi stuck to
its two main routes. Through service into Downtown was started in 1931. In 1935 service
via Bower Hill was extended to serve the now-defunct Mayview State Hospital. Closed-door
restrictions were lifted in 1938, about the same time an extension into the Willow Terrace
area was started. The Railways apparently did not view the Bigi operation as much of a
threat; although it was faster in getting to Dormont, the fares were higher and the
service less frequent.
opening of the original Kane Hospital saw branch of the Bower Hill route created as well
as a shuttle that ran from the end of the Rt. 28 car line in Heidelberg. In 1954 an
assortment of extensions were created to serve communities that had sprung up along Bower
Hill Road. These were merely 'fingers" off of the main line but were given unique
route numbers. On paper, then, it appeared as if there were eight routes under operation,
when in reality it was two, or maybe two and a half if you counted the Heidelberg shuttle.
Routes were operated
by a succession of Whites, FitzJohns, Macks and eventually GMs . The fleet was always
resplendent in cream and dark green. PAT 330, ex-Bigi 56, has lost its independent livery
in favor of an "Early Action" paint job. It's shown at Mesta, performing South
Park shuttle service.
In the "life
was more simple in the good old days" vein, a former Port Authority instructor had
started at Bigi as a mere lad, sweeping, cleaning and performing minor maintenance. One
afternoon the dispatcher looked at him and inquired if he knew how to get to Pittsburgh.
When lad replied in the affirmative, a coin changer was thrust at him with the
instructions "Good, you're the 5:10 to Mayview." Never mind uniforms, CDLs,
route qualifications, classes in accident prevention, passenger relations, etc., just
drive the bus!