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Montour Motor Coach Lines

May 3, 1944  - April, 13, 1953

The history of Montour Motor Coach Lines (MMCL) can be traced back to 1922 when the PSC granted permission to John & George Sauers for a line from the Thornburg Bridge in the Crafton area to Clinton (near Coraopolis). This original line went through sparsely populated areas and it is believed that the service was infrequent at best. This line was approximately 14 miles and traveled over the Lincoln Highway (now US Rt 30). A second line was instituted in 1926 from the junction of the Lincoln Highway and the William Penn Highway (now US Rt 22) to Santiago. A third line was added in 1928 from McKees Rocks to Moon Run via Chartiers Ave, Moon Run and Stuebenville Pike Road.

The original 1922 line and the 1926 line were extended into Downtown Pittsburgh in 1931 via Crafton Blvd with restrictions in favor of Pittsburgh Railways Company against local passengers between Crafton and Pittsburgh. The lines were once again extended in 1935 when the 1922 line was extended to the West Virginia state line and the 1926 route was extended to the Washington County border. The operation then remained unchanged until 1944.

On May 3, 1944, the rights to the routes and the buses of the Sauers operation were sold to George and Martha Harrison (trading as Montour Motor Coach Lines) who also owned another bus company in Oil City (Citizens Transit Company) and a moving company named Harrison-Shields Transportation Lines. The Harrison's transferred the rights and buses to a new corporation that they set up to operate the old Sauers operation which was the Montour Motor Coach Lines on August 8, 1944.

MMCL almost immediately revised the route patterns which included 2 new routes and a deviation off the Lincoln Highway line to serve the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The first new route ran from Pittsburgh to Moon Run via West Carson Street, Chartiers Avenue, Broadway, Forest Grove Road, Silver Lane Road and Beaver Grade Road. The second new route ran between Carnegie and Imperial via Campbell's Run Road.

Another route was applied for and permission granted by the PUC in 1946 which ran from Pittsburgh to Quinn's Corners. This line was restricted from local traffic between Pittsburgh and Woodville. At the same time, applications were filed for an unprecedented 4 shuttle lines in Carnegie. This was unique as Carnegie was a rather small but densely populated steel town which the Pittsburgh Railways Company bypassed as most everything was within walking distance. The Carnegie shuttle applications were granted by the PUC as well with the provision that none of these shuttle lines, nor the 1944 Campbell Run Road route, would ever be through routed.

A spur route was approved in 1948 to serve the Indian Pines Village housing project, east of Gayly off the Lincoln Highway, but there no records of this line ever operating. Another spur route from the Lincoln Highway-State Line route was approved in 1950 to serve Raccoon Lake but the State Line route was already cut back to Imperial by that point. Due to the cut back at Imperial and that there have been no records discovered of this line operating, it seems unlikely that this route ever operated.

A new carrier entered Montour's operating territory in 1948 and duplicated service over much of the Pittsburgh-Carnegie-Oakdale route. It also duplicated service over the inactive portion of this route from Oakdale through Quinn's Corners and Imperial which the MMCL still held rights for. For some reason, yet unknown, the MMCL never protested the Gradison Auto Bus Company (Burgettstown PA - Washington County) incursion to the PUC and let the competition continue for 3 years when it sold the entire certified line to Poskin Bus Lines in 1951.

The MMCL operation never appeared to be profitable as is evident in the roster of mostly second hand, marginally maintained equipment. MMCL buses did not have destination signs in them unless it came with the used bus, however it appears the few new buses did come with signs.. In 1949, the MMCL operated 10 routes with less than 15 buses. Although the route mileage was a lot, the population was low in much of the service area and many of the routes operated at well over 2 hour headway between trips. The low population and long headway amounted to little revenue and the 3 years of the direct Gradison competition didn't help the bottom line.

By 1953, the MMCL was closing up business for good. The Pittsburgh-McKees Rocks-Moon Run route was purchased on March 30, 1953 by Edward Moorhead who traded as Moorhead Motor Coach Lines. PUC approval was granted for the transfer and Moorhead ran the line for approximately 6 months until the line was purchased by Gradison. All the remaining MMCL service, as well as buses, were purchased by Gradison on April 13, 1953. The final asset of MMCL were charter rights, which included origination rights in Pittsburgh, which were sold to DeBolt Transit in mid 1953.

Charters were done frequently for schools in the service area to take sports teams to games at other schools. It's not known what other charter work the MMCL did but it appears that the school charters were its main source of revenue from charter work.

The MMCL appeared to have some form of radios installed. Many of the pictures of the buses show a rather large antenna mounted on the roof that extends the width of the bus above the destination sign. It seems odd that a small company such as this would have a radio system installed but to date, no other explanation for the antenna type unit on the buses can be explained.

Of the equipment owned by the MMCL, only 4 buses were ever purchased new and all others were used. Of the new buses, 2 were 1947 Beaver B-35-PT models and 2 were 1948 FitzJohn 510-H models. At least 6 buses were transferred from the Harrison's other transit interest, the Citizens Transit Company of Oil City to supplement the MMCL fleet through the years of MMCL operation. The newest buses in the fleet were the 2 1948 FitzJohns. At least 1 bus, possibly 2 (MMCL fleet list has some gaps), from MMCL made it to PAT in 1964 but were never renumbered and retired almost immediately. These 2 buses were ex-Citizen Transit buses purchased in 1953 by Austin Motor Coach, 1 of which is definitely known to have operated for MMCL.

Montour Motor Coach Lines Equipment
Montour Number Make Model Year
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This page was updated on November 08, 2006

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