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Gradison Auto Bus Company

1925 - March 28, 1970

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 state line.

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 its 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 its 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 Tunnels.

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.

Gradison Auto Bus Company Equipment
Gradison Number Make Model Year
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This page was updated on November 08, 2006

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