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Shafer Coach Lines

Acquired by PAT on March 3, 1964

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.

The 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).

An 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.

The 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.

Although 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.

The 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.

No 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.

It 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.

SCL's 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.

Acquired Equipment (with PAT number if re-numbered)
Shafer Number Make Model Year PAT Number
59 Brill C-31 1951 186
61-62 Brill C-31 1951 194,197
63-64 Brill C-31 1951 195,196
65 Brill C-31 1951 198
67 Brill C-31 1951 199
69-71 Beaver B-35-PT 1952 686-688
72 Beaver B-40-PT 1953 689
73-78 GM TDH3714 1954 760-765
79-80 GM TDH4512 1955 401-402
81-82 GM TDH4512 1956 403-404
83-84 GM TDH4512 1957 405-406
85-86 GM TDH4517 1960 571-572
87 GM TDH4512 1955 407
88-89 GM TDH4512 1953 408-409
90 GM TDH4512 1955 410

Note: Coaches 88-90 were second hand.

Routes (shown with PAT numbers)
21A Coraopolis
21B Kenmawr
25A Sewickley - Groveton
25B Broadhead Road
38A Airport Express

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This page was updated on June 26, 2008

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