Not much is known about the
early origins of the Gradison Auto Bus Company (GABC), however, it is known that in 1925,
a Mr. Gradiosa and a Mr. Tennyson formed the company with 3 buses and a route purchased
from Enterprise Transportation Company. Enterprise operated 3 routes that radiated from
Slovan, PA and went to Burgettstown, Langeloth and Atlasburg to serving miners of the area
at shift change times. The route acquired appeared to be the Slovan-Burgettstown route as
GABC was based out of Burgettstown.
Based on the GABC route
structure as of 1935, it is believed that the GABC eventually acquired all of the
Enterprise routes. Only 3 routes were run as of 1935 and they were the
Burgettstown-Langeloth line, the Burgettstown-Avella line, and the Florence-Washington
line. The fleet consisted of second hand Reo and Studebaker buses between 1929 and 1941
along with some school buses and cars that are believed to have been used as taxi's.
The first new bus documented
was purchased in 1947 and was a Flxible. GABC continued to purchase Flxibles through 1952.
In total the GABC purchased 8 Flxible Visicoaches and these were the primary buses in
service until the 1960's.
The GABC wished to create a
run to Pittsburgh in 1946 and applied for a route running from the WV state line to
Pittsburgh on May 16th of that year. In an unusually long approval process, the PUC
finally granted this route on January 20, 1948. This route duplicated service along an
existing Poskin Bus Lines route as well as an existing
Montour Motor Coach Lines route. It
is unclear as to why this approval took so long and to why no restrictions were placed on
the GABC as it was duplicating service over existing routes of other carriers.
Approximately the same time
as the rights to the new line were approved, the GABC received ICC rights to operate as
far as Stuebenville, Ohio as well as charter origination rights in West Virginia. There
was no through service from Pittsburgh to Stuebenville but some form of transfer, probably
at Langeloth, was available so it was possible to ride from Pittsburgh to Stuebenville on
the GABC. Most trips terminated at Langeloth and didn't run the complete route to the
The first known challenge to
the duplicated service GABC was running occurred early in 1952 after Montour sold the
duplicated line to Poskin in 1951. Poskin immediately filed a protest with the PUC, which
was upheld. Effective with the ruling on March 24, 1952, GABC was now restricted from
local passengers on the old Montour route as well as the original Poskin route it
duplicated service on. It was also stated in the ruling that the GABC was also restricted
from carrying local passengers on an additional segment of the route which was served by
Oriole Motor Coach Lines and Blue Ridge Lines. It is thought that this mention of
additional restrictions was just a restating of an earlier restriction on the GABC so that
everything was in one ruling but it isn't known for sure.
Two additional routes were
also applied for and approved by the PUC in 1952. The first was an alternate routing for
its duplicated Poskin route. It ran on Old Dutch Road between Presto and Oakdale. The
second route was somewhat more unique as it was a subsidized route. It ran between
Washington and Aliquippa via Burgettstown and was subsidized by J&L Steel for
employees. It is not known for sure if this route was originally subsidized by the steel
company and/or created by its request but in later years, it operated as if it was.
the Spring of 1953 saw a
major change for the GABC as it purchased most of the Montour routes as Montour was
closing down operations. The GABC then sold its original line that duplicated the Poskin
line to Poskin on July 1, 1954. There was no direct link between the acquired routes and
the existing GABC service so there was much deadheading between the Burgettstown garage
former Montour routes. This gap was filled in October of 1953 when approval was given for
a line between Burgettstown and the Washington County line on US Rt 22. The GABC then
extended service from Imperial to Burgettstown.
Also in October of 1953, the
GABC purchased a former Montour route from Moorhead Motor Coach Lines. Moorhead's only
line ran from Pittsburgh to Moon Run and was acquired from Montour by Moorhead on March
30, 1953. To serve this line, the GABC stored a few buses at a gas station in Moon Run.
The GABC sold the local Carnegie routes and the Campbell Run Road route to Leonard J.
Bruno on August 23, 1954. The PUC approved an express route for the GABC via the
Penn-Lincoln Parkway via the West End to Pittsburgh in 1954 as well.
No more major changes to
service occurred between 1954 and 1958 which was when Gradison began to modernize
fleet with second hand GM Old Looks and Parlor coaches. 1959 saw modifications to the
routes to utilize the new Fort Pitt Bridge and later in 1960 to utilize the new Fort Pitt
The GABC was ineligible for
PAT takeover as more than 80% of its business was generated out of Allegheny County. The
majority of its business was through charter work as well as the subsidized
Washington-Aliquippa line. The service area of the GABC in Allegheny County consisted of
lightly populated areas along its routes.
During the 1960's, population
was increasing in the Allegheny County portions of the service area and the politicians of
the GABC service area demanded better service or that PAT take over the routes. PAT did a
study which it gave to the GABC. The result was that lightly patronized trips were
eliminated but no true service improvements resulted from the study.
December of 1969 saw the
petition for abandonment filed to the PUC for all routes in the Burgettstown-Pittsburgh
service territory as well as a petition to sell off the other routes to Suburban Lines of
Washington, PA. Due to the lack of patronage on the GABC routes in Allegheny County during
the 1960's, PAT was reluctant to provide new replacement service but agreed to provide
trial service in the effected areas. Based on this trial service agreement, the PUC
approved the abandonment petition as well as the sale petition.
The last GABC bus ran on
Saturday March 28, 1970. PAT placed its replacement routes in service on Monday March 30,
1970 for a 6 month trial. Ridership increases were sufficient enough to warrant PAT making
the new routes permanent.
The GABC routes that were
sold to Suburban Lines were more profitable than the Allegheny County lines. Suburban
Lines continued to operate the Washington-Aliquippa line but it is not known if J&L
continued to subsidize the service after the sale. It is also not known, at this time, the
disposition of the GABC equipment.