Shafer Coach Lines (SCL) can
trace its roots back to May of 1928 when a small bus line was started by a Mr. Helsley to
connect the Pittsburgh Railways Company (PRCo) streetcar line 23 in Coraopolis to Clinton
which was 10 miles away. This two bus operation had its rights renewed for this feeder
type service in 1930 but were not renewed after that so it is assumed that the service was
abandoned between 1930 and 1932.
The next attempt at a bus
line in the Coraopolis area was made in 1937 by William A. Shafer, an operator of a
trucking line. Applications were filed for 4 routes, one of which was Mr. Helsley's old
route. Three of the routes were granted quickly by the PSC and by August of 1937,
operations commenced on the original route, a Coraopolis-Imperial feeder, and a line from
Coraopolis to Aliquippa via Broadhead Road. The 4th route was held up as the application
was considered competitive to the PRCo 23 streetcar route as well as the fact that the
Ohio River Motor Coach Company also applied for a similar route at the same time.
SCL was ultimately awarded the rights to the line over Ohio River Motor Coach in the
summer of 1938 and service was started on this line after 5 new Beaver Coaches were
delivered in August of 1938. This 4th line was considered the backbone of the SCL
operation and ran from Aliquippa to Pittsburgh via Neville Island, McKees Rocks and the
West End (similar to the 21A Coraopolis to Aliquippa route of PAT today).
additional line was added in November of 1938 and went from McKees Rocks to Coraopolis and
Sewickley via Kenmawr. The Coraopolis-Clinton line was also extended to Groveton at this
time to provide extra service on a portion of the new line.
next major service changes for SCL occurred in 1943 when 2 of the feeder routes were cut
back from their original termination points and a new route in October of 1943 was
instituted from Coraopolis to the Mooncrest housing project.
the PSC (later the PUC) tended to restrict local traffic on certain carriers if
competition would result, the PRCo streetcar line 23 and SCL had no such restriction
outside of the City of Pittsburgh. PRCo and SCL had what many would call a competition
war, primarily in the Coraopolis area. SCL had similar headways and fares during the
1940's and 50's as the PRCo 23 line did. Based on events that occurred, it appeared that
SCL had its buses scheduled just ahead of the PRCo streetcars and to counter the loss of
ridership, PRCo increased service on the line. SCL filed a complaint with the PUC claiming
that PRCo was engaging in unfair competition by increasing service on its line and the PUC upheld the complaint.
action by the PUC, as well as losing passengers, revenue and the fact that there was yet
another application for a competitive bus service along its route (which was later denied
by the PUC), made PRCo cut back the 23 line to Graham Loop on Neville Island and later to
Fleming Park Loop in West Park. A short lived bus feeder was run from 1953 to August 15,
1955 by PRCo from Fleming Park Loop to Graham Loop after the second cutback but was
abandoned due to declining ridership. After the PRCo feeder was abandoned, SCL had
exclusive service on Neville Island as well as Coraopolis.
major changes in service occurred for SCL for almost 20 years except for adjustments to
accommodate changing traffic patterns, primarily the opening of the Fort Pitt Bridge in
1959. The only other notable event was a deviation on the Pittsburgh-Coraopolis-Airport
line to serve Sharon Hill Manor in Moon Township in 1963.
needs to be noted that the Airport service that SCL ran was heavily restricted as Airlines
Transportation Company held rights to haul passengers to the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.
SCL ran trips intended only for airline employees to get to and from work.
equipment was in good shape and maintained exceptionally well. They were one of the few
Pittsburgh independents that exclusively operated transit buses without center doors
which some call muzzle loaders. At
takeover the SCL turned over 29 buses and 5 routes to PAT.