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West Penn Bus Lines

January 29, 1950 - June 1953

The West Penn Railways Company's operations were rather complicated and involved many operations. This short history will concentrate on the West Penn Bus Lines which operated in Fayette County serving Brownsville, Connellsville and Uniontown.

Click for larger imageWest Penn Bus Lines came into existence on Sunday, January 29, 1950 with the abandonment of West Penn's Uniontown to Brownsville trolley line. A second line, which was more of an extension of the new line, was started the next Sunday, February 5, 1950 and ran from Uniontown to Masontown. This second line was unable to operate on the approved PUC routing to Leckrone due to the condition of the road which was deemed unsafe for bus operations.

New buses were ordered in 1949 to replace the Uniontown to Brownsville line as well as other lines south of Uniontown and they arrived in December of that year. The 7 new GM TDH3612's were numbered 101-107 and became the focal point of much West Penn publicity to introduce the new bus service.

Click for larger imageAs ridership had been dropping on the rail lines since the end of World War II, West Penn was forced to attempt converting its lines over to bus operations. With the road conditions in the service area being less than smooth, officials were somewhat skeptical that bus substitution would help with the revenue it was losing running the trolleys but they made the plunge and tried. The buses did help some as the 36 passenger bus was more efficient than the much older trolleys were, some of which could seat 70, and allowed for easier service adjustments.

Additional GM TDH3612's were ordered and arrived in March of 1950 with the numbers 108-111. These were ordered for a later conversion and to provide some spares so that maintenance could be done without having a run missed. In preparation for another trolley conversion, another 4 GM TDH3612's came were delivered in December of 1950 and wore the numbers 112-115. The next conversion took place on January 21, 1951 and involved 2 lines. The Connellsville to Dawson line and the Connellsville to Uniontown via Elmgrove and Bitner were converted with the fleet of 15 buses being able to handle the passenger load.

Click for larger imageAt this point in time, only the Irwin-Greensburg, Latrobe and Greensburg-Uniontown lines remained. Ridership continued to decline on the entire system and the last rail to bus conversion took place on August 10, 1952 when the last of the West Penn trolleys were pulled from service. No new buses were purchased for the final conversion as the ridership had dropped low enough that the existing 15 buses were sufficient.

The ridership continued to slide to the point that even the buses were becoming expensive to operate. Routes were cut and adjusted to compensate but by then, nothing could help the faltering system. In June of 1953, West Penn Bus Lines went under. The bulk of the almost new buses went to the recently formed Community Transit Company which ran service between Avella, Washington County to Pittsburgh.

West Penn Bus Lines Equipment
West Penn Number Make Model Year
101-107 GM TDH3612 1949
108-111 GM TDH3612 1950
112-115 GM TDH3612 1950

Note: Looking up the fleet roster

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This page was updated on July 03, 2008

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