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Culmerville, Russellton & Cheswick Transit Co.

Acquired by PAT on March 31, 1964

The Culmerville Russellton & Cheswick Transit Company (CR&C) began operations in 1912 with a single route from Culmerville to Cheswick. The CR&C was one of 3 companies that served the area and was the earliest startup and the PSC certified operation in 1915. The original owners of this company were unclear but it is known that A.J. Norris was one of the main principals in the company. A branch of Culmerville-Cheswick line was added from Walter Chapel to Glassmere in 1922.

A second company to serve the Culmerville area was the Culmerville Auto Transit Company (CATC) and was formed by J.M. Stanley and G.R. Burdick. The CATC received PSC certification in 1916 although it is believed to have operated earlier. Service consisted of 2 routes between Culmerville to Sharpsburg via Little Pine Creek Road (later re-named Saxonburg Blvd.) and Bakerstown via Middle Road.

The third company to serve the area was the Tarentum Auto Transit Company (TATC) which was formed in 1914 and had a single line between Culmerville and Tarentum. It is unclear if the TATC went out of business and the line acquired or if it was bought out by the CATC but the former TATC route was operated under the CATC name by 1923.

By 1937, the CR&C route structure was basically a local operation with extensions being made to both of its lines to New Kensington. The PSC imposed restrictions against local riding in favor of the Harmony Short Line on both of the 1937 extensions although restrictions are not indicated for any duplicate service areas between the CR&C and the CATC during at this time.

The CATC route structure was more commuter type by 1932 when the Sharpsburg line was made a direct route into Pittsburgh from Etna on Saxonburg Blvd. This line was restricted from local passengers from Etna to Pittsburgh in favor of the Harmony Short Line. A second Pittsburgh line was added later on Middle Road as an extension of the Bakerstown route but there is no record as to its date of extension to Pittsburgh. These routes were implemented as the public wanted more convenient travel to Pittsburgh as the job market was moving to the Downtown area due to the decline of the coal industry in the region.

The CR&C and CATC did not operate in direct competition of each other and there were no restrictions on local passengers between the 2 companies until 1953 when the CR&C added an alternate routing via Curtisville which the PSC restricted in favor of the CATC as the CATC already had a route established in the area. The restrictions were placed in areas of expansion to protect the transit company already serving the expansion areas.

Whites were the bus of choice of both the CR&C and the CATC between the 1920's and 1930's. Both companies had at least 6 Whites in service during this time period. The 1940's and 1950's saw the Beaver Coach becoming the bus of choice in both companies although there were other makes thrown in primarily after 1950. GM's became the dominate make of coach after 1958 with many being second hand units.

The CATC was the larger of the 2 companies until the smaller CR&C negotiated the purchase of the CATC in 1958. J.H. Norris, son of J.W. Norris, was the sole owner of the CR&C at this time and negotiated the purchase of the CATC. The CATC buses were renumbered into the CR&C fleet and the CATC name disappeared into the history books. The former CATC employees were retained and all the employees of the new CR&C worked under 2 separate seniority lists.

The next item of note was in 1961 when the Harmony Short Lines ceased operations and the CR&C added a third Pittsburgh line on Mt. Royal Blvd. This line was heavily restricted by the PUC as the rights to the abandoned Harmony route serving Pittsburgh to Butler was purchased by Lincoln Coach Lines. All CR&C service that ran on PA State Route 8 was restricted from local service in favor of Lincoln Coach but the route was still the heaviest hauling route for the CR&C due to its running slightly off the original Harmony line to serve additional areas which were not restricted. 1961 also saw the purchase of 11 ex-Harmony buses to run the service as well as its additional lines.

The CR&C had excellent maintenance on its fleet and reliable service on its routes. At the time of the PAT takeover, 35 buses were acquired, all in good operating shape with the oldest 2 being 1945 models. The last new buses purchased by the CR&C were 2 1963 GMC school buses for school service which it operated in addition to the regular fixed route service. Some used equipment was purchased between 1958 and 1963 as well, including 2 TDH5104's from Green Bus Lines of New York City in 1963 which put the CR&C in the spotlight as one of the few operations to run a 40 foot transit bus in Pittsburgh.

Between the 3 companies that formed the CR&C as it was at the end, all original routes remained with only one new route being added in 1961. The majority of the route mileage for the CR&C consisted basically of extensions of the original lines.

Acquired Equipment (with PAT number if re-numbered)
CR&C Number Make Model Year PAT Number
10 Reo 96-HT 1945 -
12 Reo 96-HT 1948 -
13-14 FitzJohn 310 1950 638,637
20-21 GM School Bus 1957 34-35
22 White School Bus 1947 29
24-25 GM TDH3610 1948 877-878
26 Beaver B-35-PT 1950 675
27 Beaver B-35-PT 1952 676
28-29 GM TGH3102 1954 810-811
30 Dodge School Bus 1951 30
31 GM School Bus 1947 31
32-33 GM School Bus 1960 32-33
34 GM TDH4008 1947 114
35-36 GM TDM4509 1951 483-484
37-38 GM TD3206 1946 786,779
39 GM TD3206 1946 -
40 GM TD3206 1946 787
41 GM TD4007 1945 -
42 GM TD4007 1945 103
43 GM TDH4507 1948 124
44-45 GM TD4007 1946 104-105
46 GM PDA3703 1947 900
47 GM TDH3207 1947 778
48 GM TDH4509 1950 425
49-50 GM School Bus 1963 36-37
51-52 GM TDH5104 1952 1900-1901

Note: All buses were operational. Those not renumbered were retired by the end of April of 1964.

Routes (shown with PAT numbers)
1B Pittsburgh-Culmerville via Saxonburg Blvd.
1C Pittsburgh-Culmerville via Middle Road
1D Pittsburgh-Allison Park-Wildwood Road via Mt Royal Blvd.
5K Culmerville-New Kensington
5M Culmerville-Tarentum

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This page was updated on June 16, 2008

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